By now, we’ve all heard the news and seen the tweets: Antonio Brown wants out of Pittsburgh, and apparently would love to be a 49er. Obviously, Niner players would love him to be a 49er as well, as George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, and even Jimmy Garoppolo all were interacting with him on Twitter. Quick side note- OH MY GOD can you imagine Garopollo, with McKinnon/Breida behind him, AB and Pettis on the outside, and Kittle tearing it up down the middle? With our offensive line? I seriously would have to change my pants every time I see them lineup. Okay, enough fan-girling. Anyway, there is no doubt Antonio Brown would improve our offense exponentially, as he is still one of the very best players in the league, and our weakest position on offense by far is the wide receiver position. But does it make sense to trade for him when we most likely would have to give up something that could actually hurt us in the long run? That’s the million (or 21 million) dollar question.
The Steelers would incur a 21 million dollar cap hit if they were to cut or trade Brown, making it extremely unlikely that they will end up parting ways with him before next year. Something that could entice them to unload the disgruntled superstar? I have a feeling that the number two overall pick in the draft would be sufficient, but would the 49ers be willing to part with that pick, and would it even be a wise move? I would say for a straight up swap, no, I would disagree with the move, although I wouldn’t hate it considering NOTHING is guaranteed in the draft, and drafting someone who can put up a fraction of Brown’s production would be a monumental success. However, a scenario where we swap picks, moving back to the 20th spot currently held by Pittsburgh, and give up maybe a 2020 3rd rounder, could also be enough for the Steelers to ship him here. Even still, there would be a lot to consider. Offense is not our weakness right now; that unfortunate distinction clearly is on the defensive side of the ball right now. Do we really want to give up our chance to get someone like Josh Allen, who could possibly be a game changer for us rushing the passer, in order to improve our offense when we already have a stout pass catcher in George Kittle and a solid run game?
Something to consider is that the draft is not the only way to build a team. Yes, you must draft well in order to have success, but you can supplement those picks with key free agent signings, just like what the Rams have done, and have success that way as well. If we were to sign a pass rusher in free agency, whether that be Dante Fowler, Ezekial Ansah, or someone else, we could afford to look elsewhere for help. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how I would feel about trading for Brown. On one hand, players coming out of college always scare me, and even the most “sure fire” picks can backfire and go haywire. But just the speculation alone is incredibly intriguing, and it should be fascinating to see it all play out.