Antonio Brown has requested a trade. Im told it was not a demand but he has asked to be dealt. Very unlikely Rooney would capitulate. Brown has issues with Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger. Feels like the coach is too aligned with the QB.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 1, 2019
Brown didn't play in Sunday's Week 17 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals; it was initially reported that he was out with a knee injury. However, Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Brown actually made the decision not to suit up himself - which surprised some of his teammates.
Roethlisberger and Brown reportedly got into an argument at practice last Wednesday, in which the Pro Bowl wideout reportedly threw a ball in his quarterback's direction. Brown skipped team meetings and didn't return a teammate's call leading up to the game, per Bouchette and Dulac.
Brown made headlines this season when he responded to a Twitter troll by challenging the Steelers to trade him. Though he's been the NFL's best wide receiver over the last five years, Brown has come under fire for some some of these antics. The Steelers have put up with it for a while now, and there weren't many indications until now that Brown was unhappy in Pittsburgh.
The 30-year-old Brown had 104 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. It marked the sixth straight year in which Brown hit the 100-catch and 1,000-yard receiving marks.
Pittsburgh's season was filled with plenty of other drama outside of Brown, with running back Le'Veon Bell opting to sit out the entire season after failing to sign a new contract with the team. The Steelers finished 9-6-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.
What This Means
The Steelers would be smart to trade a disgruntled Brown, in order to rid themselves of any drama for 2019. JuJu Smith-Schuster and tight end Vance McDonald emerged as top pass-catchers for Ben Roethlisberger, and James Conner looks like a future Pro Bowl running back.
Brown is 31 years of age this offseason and only has so many prime years left, so it does make sense for Pittsburgh to move on from their star receiver and start building a bridge for the future.