Antonio Brown said, “We’re going to play by my rules.”
The Steelers need to keep that from happening. The Steelers need to stand firm and trade Antonio Brown on their terms, not his.
Brown is under contract to the Steelers for three more years. He’s an employee. The Steelers need to get proper return, or keep Brown – all the more so given that Brown has sabotaged his own trade value (and, apparently, a potential move to Buffalo).
If the Steelers keep Brown, he likely won’t show up for work. But the Steelers won’t have to pay him. (Maybe they will anyway. Consider Week 17 of this past season.)
If Brown shows up and continues his path of turmoil, the Steelers should suspend him for conduct detrimental. If the union contests that, fight it. If Brown sues, fight it.
The Steelers have tolerated Brown’s nonsense for far too long. It’s time for that to stop. They have the power. Not Brown. It’s time Brown gets put in his place.
If the Steelers capitulate, and trade Brown where he wants for whatever they can get, it sets a dangerous precedent.
NBA player Jimmy Butler (Brown’s buddy, of course) made a big stink in Minnesota until he got traded to powerhouse Philadelphia. European soccer players regularly dictate where they want to play and immediately go there, contract be damned.
The players are sports’ most disposable elements. They have far too much power.
The Steelers can’t capitulate. If they take a sub-par offer to get rid of Brown – or do the absolutely unthinkable and release Brown, which is what he’s been angling for all along – the path out of Pittsburgh will be clear, and will be traveled again.
If need be, the Steelers should pay Brown his $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17 by way of buying time to make sure this ends right for the franchise. That’s chump change.
The idea of getting a first-round pick is probably dead. But if the Steelers can’t get at least a second-round pick for Brown, it will be because he maliciously damaged their chances of getting fair value. Brown should not be rewarded for that.
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