Steelers agree to trade Antonio Brown to Raiders for two draft picks, WR gets pay raise

The seemingly unending Antonio Brown saga has apparently reached a conclusion. Finally.

Just days after a trade with the Bills collapsed, the Steelers have reached an agreement to send Brown to the Raiders that will include a pay raise for the star receiver, as first reported by Pro Football Talk and confirmed by multiple other outlets.

According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Raiders are giving the Steelers a third-round and fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. That means the Steelers would receive picks No. 66 and 142.

The reports came just moments after Brown posted a picture of himself in a Raiders jersey on Instagram. Unlike the reported trade with Buffalo, Brown appears to be more than happy to join the Raiders.

According to Pro Football Talk, Brown’s guaranteed money over the next three years has shot up to $30.125 million after previously having no money guaranteed on his contract with the Steelers. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that with incentives, Brown can make up to $54.125 million over the next three years. In all, according to Schefter, Brown is getting $19.8 million per year in new money. So, the Raiders – after refusing to give Khalil Mack the contract he wanted – are willing to give Brown the money he desires.

There’s no doubt that the trade compensation for a receiver of Brown’s caliber isn’t at all pricey – especially for a team that’s loaded with three first-round picks in this year’s draft. Since Brown entered the league in 2010, he leads the league in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. Brown is coming off yet another stellar season at the age of 30. In 2018, he caught 104 passes for 1,297 receiving yards and a league-high 15 touchdown catches. While he’s relied on his speed and out-of-this-world athleticism to become arguably the league’s best receiver, Brown is a good enough route runner to remain productive as he ages. He’s that skilled. It’s not difficult to imagine him aging gracefully – when the Raiders are in Las Vegas.

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Just in terms of draft picks, the Raiders have certainly come out on top in the past year while acquiring maybe the league’s best receiver. As Pro Football Talk pointed out, the Raiders gave the Steelers a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant less than a year ago. They’re getting Brown for a third-round and fifth-round pick. If they can add more pieces in free agency – they have loads of cap space – and hit on their three first-round picks, their rebuild could be completed sooner than expected.

The question that has to be asked, though, is this: If the Raiders are willing to give big money to a receiver who will turn 31 before next season, why didn’t they just give that money to Mack? In today’s NFL, elite pass rushers are more valuable than elite receivers, even receivers as good as Brown.

From the Steelers’ perspective, while they’re getting rid of a headache, they’re also parting ways with their best skill-position player for a not-great price. Add in the departure of Le’Veon Bell and, well, the Steelers are getting worse this offseason. There’s no way around that. They’re letting two of the league’s best skill-position players depart for almost nothing. That hurts, even if they’re probably relieved to be done with all the drama that came attached to Brown.

Despite Brown’s skill set, finding a trade hasn’t been easy. Before he got dealt early Sunday morning, Brown indicated that he wanted a reworked contract with more guaranteed money, and he basically said that he could retire from football, all of which were likely hurdles in finding a suitable trade for both parties. According to La Canfora, the reported trade between the Bills and Steelers on Thursday night fell apart because Brown refused to go to Buffalo.

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Sunday morning’s trade won’t become official until the new league year begins on Wednesday, but the saga appears to be over after two months of endless drama, rumors, one false trade report, and more rumors.

It all began late during the 2018 season when Brown got into a heated dispute with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The dispute was serious enough that Brown didn’t play in the team’s season finale against the Bengals, a game that held playoff implications. Immediately after the season ended without a Steelers playoff appearance despite a Week 17 win, Brown requested a trade due to his issues with both Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported.

Brown eventually met with team owner Art Rooney II on Feb. 19. During that meeting, they decided to part ways.

On Friday, after the trade fell through with the Bills, Brown said he’d be traded within 24 hours. While it didn’t quite happen in that window, it appears he has finally found a new home.

And he appears to be quite happy about it.

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