NFL exec: Antonio Brown forcing trade sets ‘dangerous’ precedent
Antonio Brown did everything in his power to force the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade him, and an anonymous NFL executive believes how the superstar wideout used the tools at his disposal to effectively manipulate the system sets a “dangerous” precedent.
“It’s a problem. Other star players see this and might want to do the same,” one source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “I know the Steelers had a difficult situation and needed to get rid of him. But they had other options.”
Multiple “high-ranking sources” addressing the situation during this week’s NFL owners meetings stated that Brown, who had three years left on his contract with the Steelers, effectively acted like he was a free agent.
The Steelers were left holding the bag after trading the disgruntled Brown to the Oakland Raiders for third- and fifth-round picks. Despite ridding themselves of an issue that seemingly was not going to get resolved, the Steelers assumed $21.12 million in dead money in the Brown deal.
“It was a very un-Steeler-like move,” one source said while noting the team typically handles their business with much more savvy.
The terms of Brown’s remaining three years on his contract with the Steelers would have paid him $38.925 million. Upon his trade to the Raiders, Brown signed a three-year, $50.125 million contract, one that included $30.125 million in guaranteed money. Suffice to say, Brown is quite pleased with how his ploy played out.
While the risky gambit paid off for Brown, his status in the league arguably allowed him to conduct himself in such a manner, which cannot be said for other players of lesser pedigrees.
That said, it’s entirely possible Brown — whose disruptive antics at the end of the season that continued in the postseason forced the Steelers’ hand and left the team with few options — has laid out a blueprint for fellow NFL stars for how to game the system.
Still, don’t expect everyone to follow Brown’s lead.
“He was crazy enough to pull this off,” one veteran agent said. “Most guys aren’t wired that way. The contracts and rules are in place.”