What it will cost the 49ers for Antonio Brown
It has now become clear that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will be playing in another uniform next season. Fresh off a drama-filled 2018 campaign that saw him get into a spat with Ben Roethlisberger and be benched for Week 17, things didn’t end too swimmingly for Brown and his Steelers in 2018.
Since then, Steelers head honcho Art Rooney II noted that Brown will likely be traded prior to training camp. That came at about the same time that Brown’s social media activity seemingly linked him to the San Francisco 49ers.
It goes without saying that the 49ers will have interest in Brown. Given what his market promises to look like, it won’t come cheap. Even then, there’s logic to the idea of San Francisco adding Brown to the mix with All-Pro tight end George Kittle and youngster Dante Pettis.
Here, we look at five trade scenarios surrounding Brown to the 49ers.
Brown and 20th pick to the 49ers for second overall pick
This is the equivalent of Pittsburgh receiving a top-five pick for Brown. Sure that would be a hefty price for the 49ers to pay. Even then, it would still enable general manager John Lynch and Co. to land an edge rusher with the 20th overall selection. Brian Burns (Florida State) and Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) both come to mind.
For Pittsburgh, this would be a no-brainer. The team could certainly use some pass-rush help of its own. Picking No. 2 overall, it’s a guarantee that either Nick Bosa or Josh Allen would be on the board. The Steelers could also look at an heir-apparent to Ben Roethlisberger in case the team doesn’t believe Mason Rudolph is the answer. Under this scenario, either Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray would be on the board.
Brown and 84th pick to the 49ers for second-round picks in 2019 and 2020
Picking 36th overall on Day 2, the 49ers’ second-round pick is going to be extremely valuable. We know full well teams look to move back up in the second round. That’s primarily due to the contrast in contracts between first-round picks and those selected outside of Day 1. This won’t be any different in 2019.
Under this scenario, Pittsburgh not only picks up a top-40 selection in April’s draft, it adds future capital with a second-round pick in 2020. That’s the equivalent of a top-20 selection. In throwing in the 84th overall pick, Pittsburgh makes it easier for a rebuilding 49ers team to offer up two second rounders in return for Brown. This move would also enable San Francisco to either trade out of two or go edge with the above-mentioned Allen or Bosa.
Brown to the 49ers for 2020 first-round pick
Recent reports note that the Steelers would like to move Brown before the first day of the new league year in March. If they were to do that, the Steelers wouldn’t have to pay his $2.5 million roster bonus for 2019. Even then, there’s also a scenario in play that suggests Pittsburgh will wait until after June 1 to move Brown. That would enable the team to break up his dead cap hit over the next two seasons.
Under this belief, the Steelers wouldn’t be able to add any picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s a less than ideal scenario for GM Kevin Colbert and Co. Though, it would also enable Pittsburgh to acquire future draft capital in the form of a first-round pick from San Francisco in 2020. The 49ers’ thinking here is that the addition of Brown to go with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon would make this a pick in the 20s. It’s a risk the team might believe is worth taking.
49ers trade down from two, offer multiple picks to Pittsburgh
This seems to be the likeliest of all scenarios. Selecting No. 2 overall, the 49ers’ pick is going to be valuable to teams looking to move up for a quarterback. Even if a squad does move up to No. 1 with Arizona for either Haskins or Murray, one of those signal callers would be available with San Francisco’s pick.
We’re primarily looking at three teams selecting in the top 10. The Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and Denver Broncos. It’s similar to the Jets’ massive offer to Indianapolis for the third overall pick in last year’s draft. New York yielded three second-round picks to move up from the sixth overall selection to the third spot for quarterback Sam Darnold. This scenario would help San Francisco retain some of its draft assets while still being able to add Brown and the pass rusher this team desperately needs. In turn, the 49ers can offer multiple picks acquired in this hypothetical trade to bring in Brown.
Brown to 49ers for 36th and 67th overall picks
If San Francisco were to push back against the idea of offering future draft picks for Brown, this would seem to be a logical trade offer. Based on various NFL Draft trade value charts, San Francisco’s picks in Round 2 and Round 3 is the equivalent of the 21st overall selection. That’s would be hard for Pittsburgh to turn down.
From a 49ers perspective, having the second overall pick helps here. They could trade down from that spot on draft day — potentially recouping the picks yielded to Pittsburgh in this deal. Heck, they’d get more than a second and third rounder in a trade down with the likes of the Giants, Jaguars and Broncos — three teams in desperate need of a quarterback. Just some food for thought.