Whether he meant to or not, Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown may have talked his way out of town.
The disgruntled wideout was reportedly perturbed over the franchise naming fellow receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster the team MVP and also sat out a crucial week 17 game against the rival Bengals.
That apparently led to Brown throwing a temper tantrum:
Antonio Brown's walkout may have been triggered by JuJu Smith-Schuster winning the team MVP award https://t.co/0oQHWctY03
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 3, 2019
Pittsburgh ultimately missed the playoffs even after winning that game without Brown, but his disappearing act left coaches and teammates scratching their heads. Brown would later express his disdain with the franchise and suggested he wanted to be traded.
The writing on the wall reveals the franchise might be open to that notion, especially with head coach Mike Tomlin saying Brown abandoned the team during their “darkest hour”. Cue a Gary Oldman joke here, am I right?
In all seriousness, the Steelers do appear genuinely miffed by Brown’s actions and for good reason. Especially after watching stud rusher Le’Veon Bell quit on the team due to a contract dispute, the odds are decent that the franchise won’t let this slide.
Antonio Brown Betting Odds
The Steelers have a star in the making in Smith-Schuster, while James Washington could be ready to replace Brown as early as 2019.
Does that mean the Antonio Brown trade rumors will lead to a big move? Nothing is set in stone, but the top NFL betting websites sure aren’t wasting time pondering the possibilities.
Bovada is probably the best spot to go to bet on where Antonio Brown will play in 2019. Check out their Antonio Brown odds below:
- Pittsburgh Steelers (-500)
- San Francisco 49ers (+275)
- Indianapolis Colts (+800)
- New York Jets (+800)
- Oakland Raiders (+1100)
Two things stand out immediately for me; I’d like to see more options and betting on Brown staying with the Steelers is a big waste of time. That’s obviously where Bovada is leaning right now, but bettors get nothing back unless they put up an insane amount of cash.
That’s where I come in, so we’ll break these options down a bit further.
Before we do, allow me to gripe a bit over the lack of a “field” option or extended odds. Seriously, a nice field bet with a +350 price would be very appealing. There are also a litany of NFL teams that could be in need of adding an impact receiver of Brown’s caliber.
Teams like the Packers, Patriots, Lions and quite a few others have had some problems with their receiving corps and could use a boost from an established star like Brown.
There is always the angle that Brown isn’t what he used to be at age 30, but his numbers still suggest he could be quite productive. Perhaps a change of scenery would also do him some good.
Now, back to that. Of the options Vegas is actually giving us, who has the best chance to land this marquee talent? Here’s a quick look at everyone on Bovada’s list:
Pittsburgh Steelers (-500)
One huge issue with moving on from Brown is his massive contract. Brown just signed a brand new five-year deal in 2017 and would cost the Steelers $21 million in dead money if they swung a trade.
Any deal to eat that type of cash would have to bring back serious assets and/or the trade partner would have to agree to eat some cash somehow. It’s not looking like an easy move to make, which is why the best NFL sportsbooks seem to think Brown is safe in Pennsylvania.
On top of that, Brown is a fan favorite who continues to excel in a great offensive system. If the two sides can kiss and make up, there is still a chance Brown can play a key hand in a Super Bowl 54 run.
San Francisco 49ers (+275)
You hear about contracts that can’t be moved all the time and somehow teams figure out a way to make it happen. If the Steelers really believe Brown quit on the team and/or he’s simply done with the franchise, I’m sure the two sides will find a way to end this marriage.
If that happens, the Niners may be the first team to check out. Brown recently followed the 49ers on social media and that caught everyone’s eye:
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) January 2, 2019
This could be nothing, or it could express Brown’s desire to leave Pittsburgh with the 49ers specifically in mind as a destination.
The interest should be mutual. San Francisco has a rising roster that lacks a polished wide receiver and they need to get emerging franchise passer Jimmy Garoppolo a reliable weapon.
San Francisco is arguably to a point where they can sacrifice some draft picks to make a bold move, while they also will have salary cap room (top-10 in financial flexibility). How the move would actually go down remains to be determined, but of all of Brown’s options, this one seems to have the sturdiest legs.
Indianapolis Colts (+800)
The odds bust open from here, as the Colts are the next best landing spot for Antonio Brown and the oddsmakers don’t seem to view it as a very realistic option.
Trading away a prized offensive weapon inside the AFC is a mild leap, but Indy has virtually nothing outside of T.Y. Hilton at wide receiver.
Getting Andrew Luck another legit passing game weapons could prove quite useful as the Colts try to march their way to a championship, while Brown may not hate the idea of latching on with another title contender.
Sticking in the AFC also has it’s upside, while fellow teammate Le’Veon Bell has expressed interest in landing in Indiana once he hits free agency. Could we be seeing the slow rise of the Indianapolis Steelers? Perhaps.
New York Jets (+800)
There’s also the Jets, who have even less to work with on offense right now. Robby Anderson is their best wide receiver and while he’s flashed nice ability, few will say without hesitance that he’s a reliable number one target.
New York shouldn’t be toying with the development of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold. Instead, they may opt to pay for massive upgrades, whether that be signing the aforementioned Bell to a record contract or swinging a huge trade to get Brown in town.
The Jets have a decent foundation and will soon be adding a new head coach, but they still have to make some big moves if they’re ever going to truly challenge the Patriots.
Bringing in Brown would certainly help and it’s tough to beat that +800 price if bettors are looking for value.
Oakland Raiders (+1100)
This is the main reason I’d love to see more options for bettors to put money down on.
Oakland has opted to tear things down since Jon Gruden came to town, so it doesn’t really fit their model to trade away guys like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, only to turn right back around and pay top dollar for an aging receiver.
This isn’t a destination Brown should be excited about, either. The Raiders are transitioning to a new location and aren’t remotely close to competing for a championship as things stand.
I mean, they literally don’t even have a home in 2019 yet.
The odds are certainly appealing, but I’m not exactly seeing a clear path to Brown being dealt to the Raiders.
Where Will Antonio Brown Play in 2019?
Vegas clearly doesn’t think Brown is going anywhere, but I just don’t see how this situation can be repaired.
Typically when players do far less damaging things they still end up parting ways with their respective franchise and accusations that Brown quit on his team are pretty rough.
He may require a change of scenery to get past that and continuing to pay and trust in a guy the rest of the team may not believe in could end up being counterproductive for the Steelers.
There is more value elsewhere, but right now the 49ers really do make the most sense.
It’s unclear how quickly the Steelers will make a move, but it feels like one is coming eventually. The financials are going to be tough to figure out, but the Steelers had to have learned from the distraction Le’Veon Bell caused last year.
Due to that and everything else that’s gone on, I’d bet Brown is on his way out of town and the 49ers feel like the best option right now.