There is wide speculation that the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to trade Antonio Brown, and the San Francisco 49ers are favorites to land him.
It’s been reported that trading AB results in a $21 million cap hold for the Steelers in the 2019 season. However, if the Steelers traded him in June, they could spread out $23 million over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. This is an interesting decision for Kevin Colbert as the Steelers can decide to put all their marbles in the 2020 season or try to improve the team next season. With Ben Roethlisberger hitting the end of his career, trading AB before June is a big risk as Ben’s play could feasibly deteriorate from now to 2020, meaning the Steelers wasted Ben’s last great year. However, if Ben holds his play through the 2020 season, the Steelers would have a great chance at putting together a contending team with AB’s contract off the books.
The Steelers have said that if they do trade AB, they would need a first rounder or quality player in return. This is a twist in a potential 49ers deal as they have the second pick in the draft. This is not only incredibly valuable and would most likely not be traded outright, but the Steelers couldn’t truly use this pick to its potential. The top four prospects in the draft are all offensive tackles or defensive lineman, positions the Steelers don’t need.
What could work for the Steelers is the 49er’s second round pick, number 34 overall. This is a high pick that the Steelers could use to fill many different holes. Additionally, the Steelers could also acquire another player from the 49ers. Because of the cap hold Brown carries, it’s important for the Steelers to be able to fill as many holes as they can at a low price. Trading for a pick and a player on a rookie contract allows the Steelers to fill holes on the roster without spending too much money.
The Steelers most glaring needs are middle linebacker, cornerback, and wide receiver. The 49ers have two receivers on cheap, long-term deals in Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin. Both of these players had solid campaigns last year and would help replace AB. If you’re looking for a corner, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. The 49ers had two total interceptions last year, good for last in the league. The best option for the Steelers is Fred Warner. Warner is a middle linebacker who led the 49ers with 124 tackles last season. He also turned in six pass deflections, showing off good skills in coverage. Warner is under contract for three more years with a million per year. On a team strapped for cap space lacking a middle linebacker, Warner is the perfect fit. If you add in the second round pick, a selection where the Steelers should be able to pick up a highly rated receiver, this trade could work out very well for all parties involved.