Steelers have $21 million reasons not to trade Antonio Brown

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who basically went AWOL this past week and was benched for the team’s final game.

Even worse, Ben Roethlisberger — reportedly the person Brown got into a dispute with, sparking his absence — revealed that Brown hasn’t been returning any texts or calls from his teammates, who are more than frustrated about the entire thing.

Clearly, there’s a heck of a lot of turmoil brewing. And while it’s all going down, there’s plenty of chatter about the Steelers potentially looking to trade Brown. It all originated from a text sent to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network from an NFL executive who compared this to what happened between the Steelers and Santonio Holmes.

“Santonio Holmes was given many, many chances here in Pittsburgh until Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert finally said, we’ve had enough,” Kinkhabwala said. “And then Santonio Holmes was let go, obviously. So now in this situation, Mike Tomlin loves to say, ‘We will tolerate you until we can replace you.'”

Now, as good as Holmes was, he’s nowhere close to Antonio Brown. However, that hasn’t stopped many from seriously contemplating whether the Steelers would really be looking to trade Brown if things don’t get worked out.

There’s another angle to all this, however, that really makes any trade of Brown unlikely. Not surprisingly, it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

When the Steelers restructured Brown’s contract earlier this year, the dead money on the deal changed. As noted by Bill Barnwell of ESPN, trading Brown before June 1 of 2019 would result in Pittsburgh owing $21.2 million in dead money on their cap.

Obviously, a deal could happen after June 1 next year, and Brown’s services will be in high demand if he ever were seriously put on the trade block. However, we’re talking about a half-year from now and whatever is going on between AB and the Steelers will have plenty of time to simmer down from now until then.

So, while it’s nice to think about your favorite team making a push to land one of the game’s greatest players, maybe don’t hold your breath.