We’re going to hear a lot of rumors surrounding soon-to-be former Pittsburgh Steelers stars Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell here over the next month.
While nothing can be made official until March 13, there’s a good chance we’ll hear something on the Brown front before then. Pittsburgh agreed earlier in the week that a trade is probably the best option.
Meanwhile, the Steelers also announced on Wednesday that they will not place any tag on Bell — a clear indication that he’ll be calling another NFL city home next season.
It’s in this that we look at six teams that should make a play for both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown this offseason.
Houston comes to mind first in that it has the need and the cap room to acquire both Brown and Bell. First off, it would require the Texans letting Jadeveon Clowney walk in free agency. That might be a bitter pill to swallow, but the presence of J.J Watt would lessen the burn. Given that the Texans also have two second-round picks, they can add another edge guy in a 2019 NFL Draft that’s deep at that position.
Letting Clowney walk coupled with releasing both Lamar Miller and Kevin Johnson would give Houston over $90 million in cap room. Just imagine teaming Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins up with these two All-Pros. That would immediately make Houston a legit Super Bowl contender.
New England Patriots
We can file this under the category of not happening. There’s absolutely no way that Pittsburgh sends Antonio Brown to the hated Patriots in a trade. Heck, the presence of Sony Michel in New England makes this even less plausible. He had a tremendous rookie season for the defending champs.
Even then, adding Bell and Brown to the mix as Tom Brady attempts to win even more titles during the twilight of his career would be absolutely insane. In fact, skeptics would conclude that the Patriots are ruining the NFL — taking some of the heat off the Golden State Warriors. A pipe dream. But absolutely sexy to think about.
San Francisco 49ers
This one is too easy. San Francisco has been linked to both Bell and Brown in the recent past. As it relates to Brown, it sure looks like he wants to suit up for the red and gold. Talk about potentially changing the entire dynamic in the NFC West and narrowing the gap between the 49ers and Los Angeles Rams.
In need of a No. 1 receiver, Brown would fill that role ahead of youngster Dante Pettis — forming a tremendous quartet with Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle and the above-mentioned Bell. Meanwhile, Bell’s dual-threat ability would be a boon in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. With potentially $90 million to spend, the 49ers can afford both players. And it would make them immediate playoff contenders in the NFC.
If de facto general manager Jon Gruden is hellbent on shaping the Raiders’ roster in his image, adding both Brown and Bell to the mix would be absolutely huge. Not only would it help the Raiders return to relevance, it would make them an exciting product as the team relocates to Las Vegas in 2020. After all, Vegas is all about the glitz and glamour. Bell and Brown fit that definition to a T.
From an on-field standpoint, teaming these two up with Derek Carr would make a ton of sense. Oakland traded away its No. 1 receiver in that of Amari Cooper last season. Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch is unlikely to return at running back. With a ton of cash to spend and three first-round picks in April, these two moves could be franchise altering for the Raiders.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is already a rather interesting potential landing spot for Bell. Sure Aaron Jones performed well as a second-year player last season, but he’s nowhere near Bell’s level in terms of all-around ability. Teaming Bell up with former NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers would make for the most fearsome backfield in the NFL. Add in Brown to slide in ahead of Davante Adams at receiver, and this offense would be taken to an entirely new level.
The good news here for Packers fans is two-fold. The team has multiple first-round picks. Sending off a second rounder and change for Brown wouldn’t be the end of the world. Meanwhile, newish general manager Brian Gutekunst has proven that he’ll test the free-agent waters. Though, this possibility is made less likely by the fact that Green Bay is just $34 million under the cap. It would have to cut fat off its roster, primarily Bryan Bulaga. That’s unlikely to happen.
First-year Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta noted just recently that young quarterback Lamar Jackson would be a draw for high-end free agents. That obviously now includes Le’Veon Bell. Just imagine Bell and Jackson in the backfield. It would certainly be something to behold. Add in Brown out wide, and we’re looking at a dynamic offense under a coordinator in Greg Roman who is starting from the ground up.
Currently about $50 million under the cap, Baltimore could take on both contracts and not look back. It also has the ability to shed another $11 million by releasing Michael Crabtree and Eric Weddle. The issue here is rather obvious, however. Would Pittsburgh even entertain the idea of dealing Brown to a division rival?