Report: Antonio Brown Was Unwilling to Play for Bills If Traded; Options Limited

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) plays against the Atlanta Falcons during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown reportedly didn't want to be traded to the Buffalo Bills, which resulted in a possible deal between the two sides falling apart.

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, Brown "was clear" that he didn't want to go to Buffalo. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also noted that Brown was "unwilling" to join the Bills.

Both Breer and La Canfora added that the Steelers have few options left in trading Brown. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk added "several" teams are waiting to see if the Steelers asking price of a first-round draft pick will drop. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirmed the reports by Breer and La Canfora, and he also noted that the Bills spoke with Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, before dropping out:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From @gmfb: The #Bills neared a trade last night for WR Antonio Brown, who would not commit to showing up in Buffalo. The organization did speak with agent Drew Rosenhaus. This morning, Buffalo says they are out, amid uncertainty. Steelers are square one again. https://t.co/d4suLfaVWP

Rapoport reported Thursday night that a deal between the Steelers and Bills involving Brown was close to being completed. Brown threw cold water on the report, though, by commenting "fake news" to an Instagram post about the trade.

By Friday morning, the deal was dead, with Bills general manager Brandon Beane telling ESPN's Adam Schefter the organization was turning its attention toward free agency:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Bills’ GM Brandon Beane: “We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers. We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.”

Brown would have filled a major hole on offense for a Bills team in desperate need of a go-to target for Josh Allen. Brown would have fit the bill with seven Pro Bowl nods and four All-Pro first-team selections during his career.

The Bills are coming off a 6-10 season, but they made the playoffs in 2017 and have some promising pieces that could lead to another playoff berth in the near future. Allen leads the way on offense, while 2018 first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds spearheads a productive defense at linebacker.

Brown may have accelerated Buffalo's path back to the playoffs. The 30-year-old has had at least 100 catches for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past six seasons, and he is coming off a 104-catch, 1,297-yard, 15-touchdown season.

Adding Brown would have allowed the Bills to move Zay Jones and Robert Foster into more complementary roles after decent seasons in 2018.

Now, the Bills can go in any number of directions with the No. 9 pick, including wide receiver, offensive tackle, tight end, defensive end or cornerback. Highly touted wideouts such as D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown from Ole Miss are likely among the names under consideration.

As for Brown and the Steelers, the potential trade partners may be limited based on the reports by Breer and La Canfora, but Brown rolled the dice on a more attractive situation arising and showed that he has plenty of say in the trade negotiations by reportedly nixing the deal with Buffalo.