If you're reading this, then you probably already know that Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers are at a serious crossroads heading into the 2019 NFL off-season. While there are some reports about whether or not Brown has actually requested a trade from the Steelers, there is no doubt among NFL insiders that Brown would immediately become the biggest trade target in years if he were to be made available. Brown is coming off yet another monster season in which he finished with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and a career-high 15 touchdowns. That makes it six straight seasons that Brown has finished with over 1,000 yards receiving, proving his value as a top wide receiver in the NFL today.
Although AB will be 31 years old next season, it's clear that many teams would still be willing to make a big trade in order to acquire his talents. While it's indisputable that other teams would love to bring in Brown next season, what is more speculative is where Brown would prefer to go if he were able to choose (which, unfortunately for him, he cannot control where gets traded). This article attempts to jump inside the mind of AB in an effort to determine which teams he would like to be traded to prior to the 2019 season. Of course, Brown wants to join a pass-heavy offense, but if hearsay is to be believed that he had become jealous of fellow Steeler Juju Smith-Schuster are true, then it's probable that he would seek a position in which he is the clear-cut go-to receiver. Which teams fit that mold and which ones don't? Does AB want to join your favorite team next season? Read below to find out.
The Indianapolis Colts surprised a lot of people in 2018 with their playoff run, including Antonio Brown. After having the luxury of Ben Roethlisberger throwing him passes his entire career, it would be tough for Brown to abandon ship for an unknown quarterback commodity. That's why Brown would undoubtedly jump at the opportunity to play with Andrew Luck in Indy.
The Colts already have a star receiver in T.Y. Hilton, but he has remained a lesser known superstar for some unknown reason to date, and Brown would be sure to keep it that way. If he wants to remain the star and have a top-10 quarterback, Indy could be the spot for AB in 2019.
Not only are the New York Giants in the middle of a rebuilding mode, they also already have an outspoken superstar receiver in Odell Beckham, Jr. on the roster. Combine that with the fact that the Giants might not have a credible quarterback option next season should the team decide to move on from Eli Manning this spring, and you have an unappealing scenario recipe for Antonio Brown. He is a receiver who demands targets and wants the adoration of fans, so having to compete for both with a guy like OBJ is not something that Brown would look forward to next season. For that reason, it's a hard pass on the Giants.
Let's stick with the Big Apple on this one and take a look at the other New York squad, the New York Jets. The Jets have a major need at wide receiver heading into 2019, even despite Robby Anderson's late-season heroics. If Antonio Brown could choose to go to the Jets in a trade, it's difficult to foresee him not being thrilled by the idea of it.
Brown would love the marketability and attention that come along with being a star player in the Big Apple. He would also love the idea of having complete mind-control over a young Sam Darnold at quarterback. It'd be crazy not to think AB would be all over Darnold for targets throughout each game. Brown can only dream that he's wearing green and white next season.
Although Brown would relish the opportunity to punish his former team at least twice a season, the Ravens would not be a team that he would be interested in going to in a trade if he had the choice. While he would undoubtedly be the biggest receiving threat the Ravens have (arguably) ever had, it would be too high of a risk to join an offense that is led by a quarterback who loves to run the ball when plays break down.
Broken plays are where AB often hurts opposing defenses. When Big Ben keeps plays alive, it allows Brown to use his speed and agility to find open pockets and explode for big-time plays. With Lamar Jackson's propensity to run the ball, this would negatively limit Brown's ability. For that reason, the Ravens are a team he'd like to avoid.
Speaking about quarterbacks who like to keep their eyes down the field whenever plays breakdown, there is nobody better at it then Russell Wilson in Seattle. Wilson thrives when the pocket protection breaks down and he is forced to scramble around in order to buy time for his receivers. Wilson is able to avoid so many sacks with his agility and often turns those missed sacks into big passing opportunities down the field.
Given Brown's ability to get open in these "scramble drill" type plays, he would form a nearly unstoppable duo with Wilson. Seriously, it would be scary for opposing defenses if Wilson and Brown were ever paired on the same offense.
There is absolutely no way Antonio Brown would willingly join Washington this offseason. It would be a different story had Alex Smith not sustained a potentially career-ending leg injury last season, but because of that, this is a situation that AB would want to avoid. Not only would the unstable quarterback position make Brown question the Redskins, so to would their lack of offensive creativity the past several seasons (especially last year).
The Redskins are going nowhere fast and Brown will avoid this dumpster fire at all costs. Obviously, this could change if there is any positive change at the quarterback position for the Redskins this offseason.
The San Francisco 49ers had a rough season in 2018, but will be a heavy favorite to bounce back with a winning season in 2019. With Jimmy Garoppolo coming back from his ACL and numerous starting offensive weapons also set to return, the 49ers offense could be a high-powered machine next season. If you throw Antonio Brown into that mix, the 49ers would become instant competitors with the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West crown in 2019. Not to mention, Jerry Rice recently stated that Brown 'badly' wants to play for them.
With an exciting young quarterback and a brilliant, offensive minded head coach in San Francisco, it's no question that AB would gladly join the Niners in the Bay Area next season.
Avoiding the Atlanta Falcons would speak directly to the diva that Antonio Brown can be at times... actually, most of the time if we are being honest. The Falcons already have arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones and have a talented young wideout in Calvin Ridley. Those are too many mouths to feed if you throw in a target magnet like Brown.
If Brown is already getting jealous of the lesser known Juju Smith-Schuster (supposedly), then there is no way he would survive playing on the same team and competing for the limelight with a guy like Julio Jones. Brown would literally and figuratively be in Jones's 6'5" shadow.
The Detroit Lions are currently wasting the prime of their quarterback, Matthew Stafford. It's a real shame that Stafford has been forced to play with scrubs ever since the sudden and unexpected retirement of Calvin "Megatron" Johnson in 2016. Yes, there have been some relatively decent receivers in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate (and now Kenny Golladay), but it's debatable whether or not they're actually good or if Stafford made them that much better. Our bet is that Stafford made them better, so it's only fair that the Lions finally bring in a receiver that can make things much easier for their leader. Plus, Brown played college at Central Michigan, so a return to Michigan would be welcomed.
This one may seem surprising to some people since the Los Angeles Rams have a potent offense that includes one of the leagues most successful aerial attacks. But again, Brown doesn't seem to enjoy having a lot of competition when it comes to targets in his offenses. He wants to put up big stats every game and is unhappy when he doesn't get afforded that opportunity. With Brandin Cooks already signed long-term and Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp rounding out the receiving room, there is simply no room for Brown. This is an enticing situation, but one that he would ultimately seek to avoid.
Why anybody would want to join the Oakland Raiders this off-season is unknown to me, but Antonio Brown certainly seems like the type of guy that would be interested in it. The Raiders Black Hole fan base would welcome AB with open arms, as the team currently has no real talent at their wide-receiving position heading into 2019.
The Raiders want to make a big statement before they head to Las Vegas in 2020 and having a player like AB in tow would go a long ways toward generating excitement for their move. For some reason, it's just easy to picture Brown in the black and silver Raiders jersey/helmet, isn't it? This would be a fun pairing, to say the least.
This one has nothing to do with Antonio Brown wanting to be the lead receiver or star of the team, as he would undoubtedly become both upon being traded to the Bills this off-season. This decision instead would be largely based on Brown's desire to not play for a team as boring as the Buffalo Bills are, especially offensively.
Yes, the Bills have an exciting young quarterback prospect in Josh Allen, but given their playing climate, they are predisposed to building around a reliable running game and horizontal passing offense. Bills Mafia would love to have AB, but unfortunately the feeling does not appear to be mutual.
Besides the fact that Brown is so into himself that he would likely think that Cleveland has already named their football team after him, the Browns would genuinely be a good fit for Brown. The Browns have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL and hired Freddie Kitchens to be their head coach. Kitchens comes from the Bruce Arians coaching tree, so you know there will be plenty of deep shots worked into the offensive game plan each week.
With Jarvis Landry playing the slot and handling a lot of the shorter passes, Brown would be in line for as many deep balls as he could handle. Plus, the idea of starring for one of the Steelers' biggest rivals would have to be intriguing for someone as petty as AB.
The Minnesota Vikings are already stacked at wide-receiver with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen locked in to be the stars of the teams long-term passing attack. It really would make no sense for Antonio Brown to want to join such a crowded and talented wide-receiving group. If AB is looking to start etching his name in many of the NFL's all-time record books, he knows he is going to have to eat up a heavy target share each season while he is still in his "prime." That won't be the case in Minnesota, so it's best he avoids the Vikings at this point in his career.
This selection may come as a major surprise to everybody outside of Antonio Brown and the Arizona Cardinals organization. The Cardinals offense was absolutely punchless last season, but they have made it clear that they are interested in joining the latest passing craze to take over the NFL when they hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their head coach. Kingsbury runs an "Air Raid" style of offense and will look to put up huge numbers offensively next season.
If AB wants an unlimited amount of targets and an opportunity to receive the ball in space on a consistent basis, then Arizona is his best bet. Brown would be a monster in Kingsbury's offense. It would also allow Brown the opportunity to learn more professionalism from Larry Fitzgerald, if he chooses to return for another season.
Originally, we were going to put Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in this spot, as that would be an unprecedented pairing of two superstar players. But after much consideration, we wouldn't be surprised to see Antonio Brown ditch the cold weather for a warmer climate down in South Beach. Yes, the Dolphins would be a top selection if Antonio Brown could choose where he plays next season. Although the Dolphins quarterback situation is less than ideal and nobody knows what kind of offense they will be running next season after head coach Adam Gase was fired, it doesn't matter. AB is from Miami and would relish at the opportunity to return home and play in front of his original friends and family. Plus, living in South Beach is fitting for a diva like AB.
Not every Florida team is considered equal, however, as Antonio Brown would have absolutely zero interest in joining the Jacksonville Jaguars as things currently stand. The Jaguars have a laughable passing attack and no clear plan of how to improve it. Yes, AB would be the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville and would demand many targets, but he would also see consistent double teams against the Jags' lackluster passing game. The Jaguars are built to be a strong defensive team that hands the ball off to the beast named Leonard Fournette 25 times a game. AB wants no part of that at this point in his career.
You knew this team was going to be on this list, didn't you? The New England Patriots, under the guise of Bill Belichick, have become the experts at taking other teams disgruntled star receivers and working them back into a functioning star role. Guys like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and to a lesser extent, Josh Gordon, have come to New England and completely rejuvenated their careers.
Now it's not like Antonio Brown needs to rejuvenate his career, as he is clearly still one of the top receivers in the game, but it's unquestionable that he would relish the opportunity to play with the G.O.A.T quarterback, Tom Brady. Can you just picture Brady to Brown for the next few seasons? Unfortunately, it's unlikely the Steelers would ever entertain the thought of moving Brown to New England.
Again, while it would be fun for Antonio Brown to join a team in which he could terrorize the Steelers twice a year, it would not be worth joining the lowly Cincinnati Bengals in order to do so. The Bengals are a team that lacks a true identity and has relied on the same pieces for far too long. Andy Dalton is not a true franchise quarterback and is not somebody who would entice AB to join a roster that is more fit to run the ball 30 times again than unleash a wild passing attack.
Even when the Bengals do pass the ball, Brown would have to compete with the massive A.J. Green for target share. This is just not a good fit at all for AB and one that he would have little to no interest in.
This one may be quite obvious, but let's throw it out there anyway. Whatever the actual rift between the Steelers and Antonio Brown is, it was clearly a big enough issue to enrage him to the point that he left practice and was not active in their final game of the season. If it's really just that he was jealous about Juju Smith-Schuster being named team MVP, then that is sad and a reflection of the true diva that Brown is. But whatever it is, it's clear that Brown is ready to move on to something new starting as early as next season. Losing Brown and Le'Veon Bell in a single offseason could slam the Steelers' potential Super Bowl window shut.