JuJu Smith-Schuster weighs in on whether the Steelers should trade Antonio Brown

It's been a busy start to 2019 for Antonio Brown and for all the wrong reasons. One of league's best wide receivers went missing days before the Steelers faced the Bengals in a must-win Week 17 game, and things have unraveled from there.

CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported two weeks ago that Brown has requested -- but not demanded -- a trade and that the wide receiver has issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin.

Days later, during his final press conference of the 2018 season, Tomlin told reporters that there had been no formal trade request but conceded that "lack of communication" was a key factor in the series of events that led to Brown not playing against the Bengals. When asked if Brown quit on his team, Tomlin said, "You can call it what you want."

We've even written about possible landing spots for Brown should a trade happen, and have the Steelers finding his replacement in our latest mock draft. But the player with the most to gain from Brown's departure doesn't want him to leave.

In a YouTube Q&A with fans, JuJu Smith-Schuster was asked if he wanted Brown traded.

"No, I don't want AB traded," Smith-Schuster said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He makes me better. He makes the team better. He's awesome. He's a great dude.

"For myself, I learn a lot from him -- just playing with him. If I want to increase my game to be the best, I gotta compete against him. So, I do not want him traded."

It's crazy to even have this conversation; Brown led the league with 15 touchdowns in 2018 and he's had six straight seasons of at least 1,200 receiving yards. But here we are. Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week that it would be "hard to envision" Brown with the team in training camp, adding that while they wouldn't release the mercurial star, "all other options are on the table." 

Since the season has concluded, Brown has tweeted about his Pro Bowl snub, tweeted a cryptic response to Rooney's remarks, been called out by former teammate Ryan Clark, and took to Instagram last week -- along with Chad Johnson -- to defend himself.

"For all the negative speculations about my character, I'll be addressing it soon," Brown said, via TMZ. "I'll be sure to tap in with you guys, but it's all positive. I'm 31, I'm still excited to play, I'm here with one of my mentors, one of my brothers. Right now man, I'm just embracing the New Year, the start of something fresh. That's all I can really give you all right now. But yes I'm 31 and still excited to play the game. I'm motivated, inspired, encouraged. Stay by the phone, my phone lines open."

Brown hasn't yet delivered that message but whatever happens, Smith-Schuster wants him to remain in Pittsburgh where the duo combined for 215 catches, 2,723 yards and 22 touchdowns.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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