Steelers general manager explains the scenario that could keep Pittsburgh from trading Antonio Brown

INDIANAPOLIS — If the Pittsburgh Steelers have made one thing clear over the past few weeks, it’s that they’re definitely open to trading Antonio Brown. However, that doesn’t mean a trade is actually going to happen. 

Although the odds are high that Brown will get dealt at some point this offseason, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert revealed on Wednesday that the team is open to keeping their disgruntled receiver under one main scenario. Colbert said the Steelers will hold on to Brown if they don’t get any offers they deem good enough for a trade.

Basically, if you’re an NFL team thinking about making a low-ball offer to the Steelers, then you don’t even need to call them. 

“We will only make a trade if it benefits the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert said Wednesday during an appearance at the NFL Combine. “He knows that, his representation knows that and we’re willing to take a look.”

The Steelers general manager even told Pro Football Talk that the team would be willing to pay Brown his $2.5 million roster bonus that’s due on March 17. 

That’s a big deal because it’s $2.5 million the Steelers would lose against the salary cap if he gets traded after being paid the bonus. 

Despite all the drama that has gone down in Pittsburgh over the past few months, Colbert said the team would still like to see Brown back next season. 

“Antonio Brown is one of the best players in the National Football League and we’d like to have him on our team,” Brown said. “Listen, he’s a great player, he’s a huge contributor to us, he will be if he continues with us or where ever he goes. He’s still a great player.”

Colbert then reiterated that the Steelers aren’t just going to give away their star receiver for free. 

“Anything we do has to benefit us. If it doesn’t, then we won’t [make a trade],” Colbert said. “If you lose a player like that, if you decide to take a player like that off your team, you best have the compensation that’ll justify removing that player and that would be significant compensation in the form of a draft pick or picks or a player and picks, just so you can try and balance off the great loss that will happen if you lose a player like that.”

Although the thought of Brown returning to Pittsburgh sounds kind of crazy, mainly because it feels like he’s burnt a few bridges with the team, Colbert doesn’t see things the same way. According to the Steelers general manager, Brown would be welcome back in the team’s locker room because NFL players are good at letting bygones be bygones. 

“Players are very emotional, they all hate to lose, we all hate to lose and there are some things that are said during the course of a game — especially right after the game or during a game — that 10 minutes afterward, it’s forgotten,” Colbert said. “That’s the nature of our sport.”

Colbert also added that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could help manage Brown’s potential return to the locker room.  

“Players get emotional, players get through it, players come out of it,” Colbert said. “Teams benefit if they can all manage that and that’s something I know Coach Tomlin has been great at. Coach Tomlin understands and manages player emotions very well, so I have no worry about his ability — not just in Antonio’s case — but in any player’s case.”

Of course, there’s a good chance that Brown doesn’t feel the same way about any of this and Tomlin’s probably not going to be able to help things. As a matter of fact, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, a big reason Brown wants to leave Pittsburgh is because he’s having issues with Tomlin (and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger). 

Although Colbert insisted that the Steelers might keep Brown, the more likely scenario is that he gets traded and the Steelers general manager spent some time talking about that. According to Colbert, every team in the NFL is a potential trade candidate, including the Patriots and the three other teams in the AFC North. 

“We haven’t eliminated anybody,” Colbert said, via Cleveland.com. “Ideally, you want to trade him to somebody you’ll never play, but you can’t do that, because if you’re good enough to get to the Super Bowl, you have to play him anyway. The less you would play him, the better, but if a team comes through with the best compensation, we have to balance that out. OK, we’re going to play him twice a year, but we’re going to get the best compensation, so it’s our job to do the better job with the compensation, and you have to weigh that all into the discussion.”

After saying last week that three teams are interested in Brown, Colbert said this week that “interest has grown.” For a look at potential landing spots for the Steelers receiver, be sure to click here. For a look at potential offers that the 31 other teams could make for Brown, be sure to click here

Categories: National Sports

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