Antonio Brown and a World of Suitors

For better or for worse, the star wide receiver has declared to be traded from Pittsburgh. We’re breaking down his potential suitors for next season.

*we’re basing our grades off of the things Brown wants/needs: an intermediate – deep passing attack, a big market, and stability in the front office.*

Indianapolis Colts 

Among the teams that are speculated to land Brown this offseason is the Indianapolis Colts. The possibility of Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Brown has AFC South defenses sweating already. Indianapolis throws the ball as much as any team in the league, averaging just over forty (41.4) pass attempts per game in 2018. Despite Luck dropping back more than any quarterback in 2018, the Colts rely more on an intermediate and short passing attack, targeting running backs and tight ends more than fifty percent of the time (granted, the receivers beneath Hilton on the depth chart are mediocre at best). A lot of Brown’s game in Pittsburgh revolves around deeper routes, often greater than ten yards. It can also be noted that Luck only takes an average of four deep shots a game, which is middle-of-the-road in the league. While Luck to Brown would undoubtedly be a combo to watch, a small market team that relies on short passes doesn’t fit Brown’s game (and ego) well enough to deserve a top-notch grade, but is enough of a fit to be an enticing possibility. 

Grade of potential fit: B+

Chance he goes (and if Le’Veon Bell goes): 15% (30% if Bell goes)

Oakland Raiders 

Do you ever look at something and wonder how it got there? That’s how I feel about the Brown-to-Raiders rumors. Not only is it not going to happen, but it might be one of the worst fits in the league for Brown. Derek Carr is a discount Ben Roethlisberger – while he does love throwing deep balls, his completion percentage on them is an abysmal 44.1 percent. Brown would fit decently into the Raiders’ scheme, but if he’s complaining that Pittsburgh is a mess, he wouldn’t last one day in the cluster-fuck that has become the Raiders’ organization. On top of all that, the Raiders have yet to relocate, which has alreadybeen one of the most confusing and weird re-locations in NFL history. This is the only team where Brown should make as much as an effort as he can to stay away from.

Grade of potential fit: D-

Chance he goes: As much of a chance that Oakland has winning Super Bowl 54

New York Jets

Big market… Check. Actually, as our president would say, ‘the biggest of all the markets, it’s huuuuge.’Antonio Brown in New York makes complete sense as far as his demand to become a star on and off the field. The biggest problem with New York is that even with Brown, the team probably won’t be a contender for the next season or two. Sam Darnold has potential to be a really good quarterback, but the Jets limited him in 2018 by using a very conservative, generic playbook. There isn’t much to analyze about Darnold yet – his ceiling and potential as a quarterback has yet to be discovered or even explored. Outside of Josh Rosen, he’s probably the hardest second-year quarterback to analyze going in to year two. With a new, offensive-minded head coach and a potential star at wide receiver, Darnold could explode onto the scene in 2019, or he could disappoint in the big city. Brown to New York is probably the most interesting possibility on this list, but there are too many question marks about the Jets as a team to make it a great fit.

Grade of potential fit: B-

Chance he goes (and if Bell goes): 30% (50% if Bell goes)

San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan is the real deal as far as offensive minds go, but that hasn’t translated into wins in San Fran just yet. Brown could change that. Antonio fits right into the scheme that Shanahan used to perfection as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2016 – an intermediate passing-centric attack that takes a fair share of shots. With Jimmy Garoppolo coming back for a second season in San Fran fully healthy, the ceiling of a Brown trade has sky-is-the-limit implications. The biggest concern with Jimmy G is finding out just how goodhe is, as his career is still more of a hype train over actual production to this point. Brown would have Marquise Goodwin on the other side of him to take away some attention as a deep threat, but other than that, Brown would be the first option on most pass plays – followed by standout tight end George Kittle. While the 49ers have a lot of potential, it is unproven at the moment, contrary to the Colts, who have proven to be the real deal at this point. A move to San Fran would be far from awful, as a medium/large market team with an up-and-coming quarterback and head coach, but is more of a ‘this might work’ scenario at the moment rather than a concrete good fit. 

Grade of potential fit: C+

Chance he goes: 45% 

Cleveland Browns

Baker. Nick Chubb. Kareem Hunt. Jarvis Landry… and Antonio Brown. The thing that held the Browns back the most in 2018 was the need for more explosive players on offense. With the newly-acquired Kareem Hunt and the prospect of Brown going there, Cleveland would immediately be thrust into contender status. Their offense would be good enough to go toe-to-toe with the Ravens’ great defense, and they would be taking away the Steelers’ best player and flipping him into a weapon to burn their lackluster corners. Combined with their above-average defense, the Browns would finally have a team capable of winning their division for the first time since who remembers? 1989. The only concern for Brown’s fit with the Browns is a big one – their front office. Pittsburgh was apparently too much of a mess for Brown, but Cleveland makes Pittsburgh look like the gold standard for how to run a franchise. While they’ve tried to turn around their culture, nothing happens overnight. The signing of Kareem Hunt is proof that despite a successful 2018, Cleveland is still desperate and will take risks on talented players at all costs – not a good sign for someone who loves organization. 

Grade of potential fit: B

Chance he goes: 10%