The Pittsburg Steelers drama was painfully apparent all season and has only become worse in the offseason with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell both publicly expressing their interest in leaving the team. After officially becoming an unrestricted free agent, Bell quoted Martin Luther King Jr. on Twitter, “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I am free at last.” This Tweet was in reference to a team that had been patient with Bell through multiple injuries and a suspension in the last two seasons. Bell turned down a five-year $70 million deal before the 2018 season, and after holding out for an entire season of playing football over a matter on money, it’s hard to imagine he’ll get an offer that comes close to the Steelers initial offer. Antonio Brown is in the middle of a $68 million contract and has been looking to be traded since the middle of the 2018 season as the Steelers star sophomore receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster started getting more attention from Ben Roethlisberger. Brown has mentioned a desire to play in San Francisco with Tom Brady’s former apprentice, Jimmy Garoppolo.
Potential locations for Antonio Brown: San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans
Potential locations for Le’Veon Bell: New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts
On the other side of the league in Dallas, Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who has accumulated twenty-five sacks over the last two seasons, leads the list of best available free agents according to NFL.com, topping Le’Veon Bell and Nick Foles. Lawrence has said he would prefer to stay in Dallas, but with Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott both expecting massive contract extensions after the duo’s explosive first three years in the league, and the possibility of picking up all pro safety Earl Thomas, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys staff stand at a crossroads.
Potential Locations: Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers
Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was injured for the season in Week 4 of 2018 and flipped the middle finger to his team’s sideline as he was carted away to the locker room. Thomas’s frustration began when the Seahawks didn’t extend his contract in the previous offseason, leaving him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Earl Thomas has been expressing interest in returning to his home state of Texas to play for the Cowboys since he was denied a contract from the Seahawks and prior to his injury rumors circulated that the Cowboys would pursue a trade midseason. Thomas played against the Cowboys in Week 3 and intercepted Dak Prescott twice. He ran into Dallas’ tunnel after the game to have a talk with head coach Jason Garrett.
Potential Locations: Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys
The drama surrounding free agency has spiked in recent years with players being able to communicate and argue with other players and media on the internet. This change has altered the way teams evaluate who they want to sign and release drastically. Players that don’t discuss finances or disagreements regarding their team with the public are the guys that coaches want to have in their locker room. Teams choosing whether to spend money on their defense with Demarcus Lawrence, or offense with Le’Veon Bell have an easy decision to make in the 2019 offseason.