When they put Antonio Brown on the trade block, the Steelers likely anticipated that they would receive pretty fantastic compensation in return. Brown is, after all, a Hall of Fame-caliber wide receiver on a pretty cheap ($13 million a year) contract.
But it's not going to be the case, as Jason La Canfora explained on Thursday's edition of the Pick Six Podcast (our DAILY NFL POD, get it fresh, get it hot on iTunes, on Spotify and on Stitcher) and explained how over the course of the combine and the weeks since Brown demanded a trade, the market just hasn't materialized the way Pittsburgh hoped.
"There was a point where more teams were rubbing elbows with them at the combine, but no one was going around blowing them away with any offers. And some of the teams that were asking are just places that they're not going to trade him," La Canfora explained. "One thing after another, and it's just like he's not making it any easier. And we're not coming from a position of strength to begin with and now, he's just giving guys reasons to decide not to make an offer. There's some frustration.
"There's also a sense in that building that, from a football standpoint, we're not going to be able to win here. We're not going to be able to tie or tread water. Despite all the headaches, he's not the worst guy in the world. They've had him there for seven years. It's not like this came to a head two games into his rookie year. They could co-exist for quite some time. And now they have to sell low on him at a time when he's going to go out and catch another 100 balls for someone else."
Part of the problem is the Steelers hoped to compare the Brown deal with the Amari Cooper trade from earlier in the season, when the Cowboys gave up a first-round pick for Cooper to the Raiders. Unfortunately, Brown is older and apparently a little bit more of a pain off the field, even if he's better on the field.
I tried to come up with the best possible offers NFL team what their best offer would be ahead of an artificial Friday deadline and then making a move.for Brown, and it looks like some of the bottom offers might end up being the best options. If the Steelers could get a second-round pick for Brown right now, they probably would do so. Instead they're being forced into asking every single
Essentially, as La Canfora explained it, "on a weekly basis ... nothing really has happened that's conducive to making the best football trade you can make."
So the Steelers are stuck with Brown. It feels like the wideout might be doing his best to try and get released, which would give him the freedom to seek a new contract with any team he likes ("Belichick, baby!" as La Canfora put it), but despite all this, the Steelers "don't hate" Brown.
"They don't hate him. They understand this isn't all him. It's forced them to have a moment of clarity about the state of things," La Canfora said. "They don't hate him. But they know it's over here. Again, not for football reasons but for all those other reasons. I think they don't quite understand why he's done what he's done since they had that meeting in Florida.
"I don't know his motivations. This idea that this is somehow a master scheme -- I guess if you're dying to win two games with the Raiders this year, if that's your master plan, then you're succeeding."
It's almost unfathomable how this has played out. Three months ago the Steelers were looking like a team that would win the AFC North and make a deep playoff run, then all of a sudden they might trade their future Hall of Fame wideout and now, here they are, in the middle of March, being forced to dump Brown for a return that almost certainly will not meet expectations. Life moves fast.