The Pittsburgh Steelers will be undergoing a massive change in the offseason, according to head coach Mike Tomlin.
Pittsburgh stood pretty at 7-2-1, but they managed to lose four of their final six games - missing the playoffs for the first time in five years. They committed far too many late-game blunders in those four losses. And eve though 9-6-1 is usually a good enough record to get into the playoffs, that wasn't the case for Pittsburgh in 2018. They were one game shy of winning the AFC North.
This was a drama-filled season for the Steelers, who had to deal Le'Veon Bell's year-long absence. On top of that, wide receiver Antonio Brown stirred things up on social media, with reporters, on the sidelines and in the locker room. He was benched for the team's Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals after skipping practice and team meetings.
That whole saga reportedly took place because Brown got into an argument with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during practice. No. 84 apparently got fed up with his quarterback and threw a football in the direction of Roethlisberger. The latter has since stated that Brown didn't respond to any of his texts or phone calls.
The Steelers might have no choice but to simply trade away Brown and rid themselves of the drama. There are more than enough talents to work around in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, James Conner and James Washington. They can easily succeed without him.
Now, here's a look at seven teams who should trade for Brown, seven that should consider it and seven that need to stay away at all costs.
21 Best Trade Option: New York Jets
If young quarterback Sam Darnold is to mature and develop quickly, the New York Jets are going to have to supply him with better playmakers. And in case you were unaware, Brown is the best wide receiver in the NFL. There are few guys who can change a game like the 30-year-old Pro Bowler.
Having Brown come to the Meadowlands would make the Jets that much better in an instant. Darnold would instantly take his game to another level, and the Jets would become a relevant franchise once again.
And for what it's worth, the Jets have been heavily linked to Brown's teammate, Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell. Might the Jets try to find a way to reunite this duo together? It sounds crazy at first, but it truly would do wonders for this franchise.
20 Consider: Indianapolis Colts
With Andrew Luck back to his elite form again, the Indianapolis Colts have emerged as an offensive juggernaut. T.Y. Hilton is still one of the game's top wide receivers, and running back Marlon Mack figures to be one of the top running backs in football for years to come.
The Colts don't need Brown to win a Super Bowl, but they certainly should consider it. Offensive-minded head coach Frank Reich would probably love a speedy and superb route runner to complement Luck here. The AFC South is going to be a three-way horse race between the Colts, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans for the long run.
Indianapolis could very well get a leg up on the competition by Brown, but will it be worth the high asking price? It's simply something for the Colts to consider, but they don't need Brown as much as other teams do.
19 Avoid: Kansas City Chiefs
With Patrick Mahomes leading the charge, the Kansas City Chiefs had one of the NFL's most prolific offenses in 2018. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Damien Williams provide more than enough playmakers for Mahomes, and the Chiefs don't need to add more around him.
Kansas City has arguably the league's best offense already, and they should be using the remainder of their cap space to upgrade on defense. Trading for the final three years of Brown's contract will take a huge bite out of their cap space.
There is no reason for Kansas City to add to a strength. They are built to destroy defenses for the long haul, so adding Brown just isn't necessary. The Chiefs shouldn't even think about going near him.
18 Best Trade Option: Philadelphia Eagles
The Golden Tate and Mike Wallace rentals didn't pan out in Philadelphia, and they're going to need another pass catcher to complement Alshon Jeffery. Why not make a play for Brown, who would fit in nicely with Doug Pederson's pass-happy offense in the City of Brotherly Love?
As the Eagles have shown over the past three years, you can never have too many electrifying players on offense. That's how they won Super Bowl LII a season ago, and this is how they're going to build their team for the long run - with a bunch of playmakers to help out Carson Wentz.
The idea of Brown and Jeffery on the field at the same time to stretch the field is terrorizing for the rest of the NFL. There would be no easy way of defending against this offense, which is why the Eagles should go all-in on Jeffery.
17 Consider: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins might be the most active team this offseson, as firing head coach Adam Gase is only the first step in a major retooling process. It's widely believed the Dolphins will move on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, too.
Miami can either draft its new quarterback or look for somebody like Nick Foles, Joe Flacco or Teddy Bridgewater. But no matter who lines up behind center for Miami, they simply won't succeed unless the front office upgrades at wide receiver.
The Dolphins - who emphasized the need to change up their locker room atmosphere last offseason - might be hesitant about adding Brown. They're trying to build up a roster full of selfless team players, and Brown certainly doesn't fit the bill there. But they really need to rebuild the offense, and adding Brown would go a long way. They should weigh both options and think about acquiring him.
16 Avoid: New York Giants
The Giants already have two franchise cornerstones to build around in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Saquon Barkley. The goals should be to find Eli Manning's successor, better offensive linemen and some upgrades on the front seven.
Simply trading for Brown will not be enough to help the Giants overcome all of those other roster flaws. This team isn't anywhere close to competing with the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, so they better not lie to themselves by thinking Brown will change the whole dynamic of the team.
Plus, both Brown and Beckham are known for having attitude problems. The Giants are putting up with Beckham, but it's hard to see how the locker room would hold together if Brown came along. The Giants need to avoid him at all costs.
15 Best Trade Option: Washington Redskins
The Redskins saw their promising season come to an end when both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy went down with broken leg injuries. Both were playing fine despite lacking quality wide receivers around them. The front office has to change that.
Though running back Adrian Peterson turned back the clock and had another excellent season, the Redskins didn't have any reliable receivers for Smith and McCoy. Imagine if they added Brown to Jay Gruden's offense? Suddenly, Washington would become a scoring machine again.
Brown would be a nice fit for Smith, whose game is built around short passes and small plays. With his elite route running, Brown would fit nicely in that Washington offense. They could be going hard after him, if Pittsburgh decides to shop the 30-year-old.
14 Consider: Buffalo Bills
The Bills haven't had a Pro Bowl wide receiver for years now, and it's simply time for general manager Brandon Beane to change that. Otherwise, young quarterback Josh Allen isn't going to keep develop in a timely fashion.
With Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy nearing the end of his tenure in Buffalo, the organization doesn't have any long-term pieces on offense to build around with Allen. That's why they have to at least ponder a trade for Antonio Brown.
They could always decide to find cheaper options in free agency - or even spend a couple of draft picks addressing the position. But if Brown is there for taking, Beane has to at least explore the opportunity of trading for the star wideout.
13 Avoid: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks made a surprise return to the postseason in 2018, and it was thanks to a vaunted offense powered by Russell Wilson, running back Chris Carson and wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin Seattle has more than enough talent on offense to compete for more Super Bowls.
On top of that, head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider spent last offseason clearing out the drama in the locker room. It meant letting go of Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, among others.
Seattle doesn't need to add a player like Brown, who has a reputation for stirring the pot in the locker room. The Seahawks can't set themselves back again by adding a player with Brown's personality. They have to stick with this core they have on offense.
12 Best Trade Option: Denver Broncos
The Broncos have now recorded back to back losing seasons for the first time in 46 years. Head coach Vance Joseph was fired. GM John Elway simply can't decide to rebuild, when he has some franchise cornerstones in Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton.
Elway has to replace quarterback Case Keenum, who didn't look like a starting-caliber player in the first year of his $36 million deal. After that, Elway should look to add another dynamic wideout like Brown - who would reunite with former Pittsburgh teammate Emmanuel Sanders.
An offense consisting of Sutton, Lindsay, Sanders and Brown would do plenty of damage - no matter who lines up behind center. With plenty of cap space to use up, Elway has every reason to go after Brown.
11 Consider: Carolina Panthers
After missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, it's clear that the Carolina Panthers need to rebuild the offense around Cam Newton. Tight end Greg Olsen is nearing the end of his prime, and star running back Christian McCaffrey can't do it all on his own.
Though rookie wideout D.J. Moore showed some promise, he's not exactly a game changer. That's why the front office should consider the option of trading for Brown, who might be the final piece needed in order to fix this once-great offense.
There is a risk here, of course. Newton is known for his strong personality, and though he's beloved in the Carolina locker room, it might not be the case with Brown. Carolina has to decide if it's worth the risk of adding a guy who could very well clash with his quarterback.
10 Avoid: Los Angeles Chargers
Why should the Chargers even bother?
This team already has one of the greatest set of offensive playmakers in the NFL. Philip Rivers is blessed with big-time talent, which includes Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Mike William and star running back Melvin Gordon.
The Chargers are not lacking in a dynamic wide receiver like Brown. Gates and Henry have been good security blankets for Rivers. Williams showed signs of breaking out after a strong second half, and Allen is arguably a top five wide receiver in the NFL right now.
Los Angeles doesn't need to address anything on offense. That's why it's an easy choice to avoid calling Pittsburgh about Brown.
9 Best Trade Option: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers already have one of the game's most electrifying wide receivers in Mike Evans, but imagine if they added Brown to the fold. Jameis Winston has played relatively well with Evans and DeSean Jackson as his premier pass catchers, but what if he had a player like Brown at his side as well?
Tampa Bay hasn't made the playoffs in 11 years now, and they're way behind the other teams in the NFC South. Unless the front office makes some big moves this year, they'll stay at the bottom of the division for the long run.
That's why the Buccaneers should piece together the necessary trade package to land Brown. He would help that offense reach another level in 2019, and it would help Winston find some form of consistency - something he's lacked throughout his four-year career.
8 Consider: New England Patriots
Bill Belichick is no stranger to taking a chance on wide receivers that run themselves out of town with another team. He took a chance on Josh Gordon, and it worked out nicely until the latter stepped away from football to focus on his mental health while awaiting a suspension.
So Belichick has to decide if he wants to take the chance on Brown, who could very well be a problem in New England's tight-knit locker room. But Belichick might also decide he wants a Pro Bowl wide receiver to fill the void left by Gordon, to.
It's highly unlikely that the Steelers would even trade Brown to a conference rival and perennial threat. But Belichick should at least consider putting together a nice trade package for Brown.
7 Avoid: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings already feature perhaps the league's best wide receiving duo in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Throw in reliable tight end Kyle Rudolph and flashy running back Dalvin Cook, and the Vikings have absolutely no reason to go after Brown.
The main duty for Minnesota in the offseason is to find the right offensive coordinator that can fix $84 million man Kirk Cousins, who was a major flop in his first season with the Vikings. Simply adding another playmaking wide receiver won't do enough to change Cousins' play.
Plus, the Vikings are tight under the cap and probably have to let go of linebacker Anthony Barr. Even if they needed a player like Brown, Minnesota would have a difficult time finding a way to it him in.
6 Best Trade Option: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers don't usually make big splashes in the trade and free agent markets, but they absolutely have to do something this offseason. There isn't a playmaker on offense to help out Aaron Rodgers other than Davante Adams. Jimmy Graham flopped big time. Randall Cobb wore out his welcome. It's time to start doing something serious.
If the Packers add Brown, it completely changes this Green Bay offense. Rodgers would have two Pro Bowl wide receivers to work with, and it would help him regain that MVP caliber form we haven't seen much over the last three years.
Green Bay can easily clear cap room in order to take on Brown. If the Packers want to catch up quickly to the up-and-coming Chicago Bears, they have to add a guy like Brown to help out Rodgers.
5 Consider: Houston Texans
Though DeAndre Hopkins has made his case as perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL, the man simply doesn't have anybody who can draw the attention away from him. Will Fuller hasn't been able to produce much, and Demaryius Thomas was struggling to fit the system before his season-ending injury.
Deshaun Watson is performing at an incredible level with only Hopkins as a reliable pass catcher. If they could find a way to trade for Brown, it would make this rapidly improving offense even better.
Of course, the Texans have to prioritize fixing the offensive line and ground game, plus safety Tyrann Mathieu will require an extension. They should inquire about a potential trade for Brown, but he shouldn't be Houston's biggest priority.
4 Avoid: Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears were one of the bigger surprises of 2018, finishing with a 12-4 record to secure their first division title and playoff berth since 2010. Though the league's best scoring defense needs most of the credit, second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky also made it happen by taking a big leap in 2018.
Chicago's offense is loaded with playmakers, including the scary running back duo of Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. Tight end Trey Burton and wide receiver Allen Robinson are capable of coming up with the big plays, too.
Head coach Matt Nagy has already done wonders building up this offense. He doesn't need to change it up by adding a player like Brown, who won't want to play for a team that won't give him all the catches. It's best for the Bears to stick with this core, rather than drastically change it.
3 Best Trade Option: San Francisco 49ers
As many of you know by now, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman and George Kittle all took to Twitter and tried recruiting Brown. But that's not why we have the 49ers as the top landing spot for Brown.
Let's think about the incentives for acquiring Brown. The 49ers will be a playoff contender next year when Garoppolo returns. He'll have a young, dynamic running back in Matt Breida and a star in Kittle - who just broke the single-season tight end receiving yards record.
There is no more "future" in San Francisco. It's about winning now, and trading Brown would put them in prime position to compete for Super Bowls again. Brown, Kittle and Breida would help Garoppolo play at an MVP level, and the 49ers would certainly emerge as a Super Bowl contender.
Not to mention the 49ers have plenty of cap space to take on Brown's contract, too. The star players want Brown, and he'd flourish in Kyle Shanahan's offense. If there's one team that makes perfect sense for Brown, it's San Francisco.
2 Consider: New Orleans Saints
The Saints are already an offensive juggernaut with the all-time passing yards leader Drew Brees, Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas and do-it-all running back Alvin Kamara. But what if they want to make their ridiculously good offense even more, well, ridiculous?
Fitting Brown's contract under their cap would be difficult, but the Saints could always have him restructure his deal, and certainly guys like Brees and Cameron Jordan would do rework their contracts as well.
Now, the Saints don't need Brown to compete for a Super Bowl by any means. It's just if they want to consider adding another world class talent to their offensive machine. Adding Brown is just something they should think about, but they shouldn't be too aggressive in pursuing him. They shouldn't stay completely away from him, either.
1 Avoid: Los Angeles Rams
There is absolutely no need for the Los Angeles Rams to trade for Antonio Brown.
For one, they already have a trio of star wideouts in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks - with the latter two registering 1,000-yard seasons in 2018. Heck, Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley does plenty of damage as a pass catcher as well.
Los Angeles doesn't have any use for adding Brown. On top of that, this team can't afford the last three years of his deal. Aaron Donald's monster extension kicks in next year, while quarterback Jared Goff eventually needs a new deal as well.
The Rams have to save every penny of cap space they can, and there is absolutely no need to go after Brown when they have the best wide receiver trio in the NFL. Los Angeles needs to avoid going after Brown at all costs. There just aren't any incentives to go after him.