Dougherty: Why Packers should steer clear of Steelers' Antonio Brown

Pete Dougherty
Packers News
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The Green Bay Packers should take a pass on Antonio Brown.

The four-time first-team All-Pro receiver is a gifted player, and he’s available after recently asking the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade him.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates a first down against the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Packers need playmakers on both sides of the ball, and Brown has been among the league’s best receivers the last six years. On paper, lining him up opposite Davante Adams would give the Packers the best pairing in the NFL.

But Brown also is a blowup waiting to happen, will be 31 by the start of next season and reportedly wants a new contract from a new team. The Packers shouldn’t invite a potentially huge problem into their locker room with a player who could start declining at any time, and at a position where they have some decent young talent anyway.

It’s not a given the Steelers will trade Brown – team president Art Rooney II reportedly will meet with him in Florida this weekend. But Brown hasn’t talked to any Steelers officials since his benching for the regular-season finale, had his agent request the trade last week, and recently on Twitter both posted his farewell to Steelers fans and took some shots at quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Long and short, there’s a good chance the Steelers will end up dealing him. Not that it means much, but at least one oddsmaker,, has the Packers tied for the second-best odds (5-to-1) to end up with Brown, behind only Arizona (9-to-2). The Steelers are 12-to-1.

It’s hard to know what it will cost to deal for Brown. Considering his age and temperament, I’d think the best the Steelers could get for him would be a second-round draft pick. Even that might be high.

Brown also reportedly wants a new contract from his new team, which if true could dilute his trade value.

He’s due $15.125 million in salary and bonuses this season and has non-guaranteed pay of $11.3 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021. One of the attractive things about trading for Brown is he just signed a contract extension in 2017, so if things don’t pan out for whatever reason his new team could cut him next year and be out only the $15.25 million.

But if Brown wants a new contract, and especially if he demands a big guarantee, he gets tougher to trade. So what would someone give up to get him? A third-rounder? A fourth? I don’t know.

All I know is, bringing in a diva receiver on the wrong side of 30 makes little sense for the Packers. Team President/CEO Mark Murphy determined that accountability had slipped late in Mike McCarthy’s long tenure as coach. Adding an aging, entitled player would undercut Murphy’s firing of McCarthy and hiring of Matt LaFleur as his new coach.

Remember, Brown, while by all accounts a hard worker, is used to being treated differently than his teammates.’s Jeremy Fowler reported that in recent training camps Brown didn’t stay in the Saint Vincent College dorms like his teammates but had a rental home near the campus, and that he’s habitually late for team meetings but only occasionally fined.

Brown also has a hypersensitive streak and felt underappreciated with the Steelers this year as teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster became the team’s leading receiver – Smith-Schuster had 111 receptions to Brown’s 104.

That led to Brown’s boiling over the week of the regular-season finale. He reportedly walked off the practice field after feeling slighted during a Wednesday walkthrough, later failed to undergo an MRI after complaining of a sore knee, then was a no-show for the Saturday walkthrough. He showed up for the game Sunday, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin benched him, and Brown reportedly hasn’t returned phone calls from anyone in the organization since.

If Brown were 27 or 28, this might be a different story. He was so good he’d be worth the potential trouble. Then again, the Steelers probably wouldn’t even entertain trading him if that were the case.

Regardless, after what happened last season with the Steelers, it’s hard seeing Brown co-existing with Adams and falling into line with a new coach’s discipline regimen after years of going by his own rules in Pittsburgh. He’s a problem waiting to happen.

And while Brown is a bona fide talent, it’s not like the Packers are hurting at receiver. Besides Adams, they had two rookies (Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown) who showed real promise last year, plus Geronimo Allison, who was off to a strong start as a third-year pro last season before landing on injured reserve after five games because of a groin injury.

They’re not Brown, but the arrow is pointing up on all three.

There probably are some teams that should take a shot at landing Brown. The Packers just aren’t one of them.



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