Antonio Brown’s highly publicized trade from the Steelers to the Raiders earlier this month left many NFL executives worried that the wide receiver’s ability to force himself out of Pittsburgh will set a “dangerous” precedent moving forward.
According to ESPN, which cited anonymous league executives, the concern is Brown has created a model that if players treat themselves as a free agent, they will be able to get what they want. The worry is it will become “dangerous” for teams because players won’t honor their contracts.
“It’s a problem. Other star players see this and might want to do the same,” an anonymous executive told ESPN. “I know the Steelers had a difficult situation and needed to get rid of him. But they had other options.”
Brown was traded with three years left on his contract, resulting in a $21.12 million cap hit, in exchange for third- and fifth-round picks from Oakland. The 30-year-old receiver now has a deal with the Raiders worth $50.125 million ($30.125 million of that guaranteed).
“It was a very un-Steeler-like move,” another unnamed source told ESPN.
The Steelers had a similar situation with star running back Le’Veon Bell, who also was unhappy with his contract. Bell ended up sitting out the entire 2018 season in hopes of reaching a long-term deal, but instead became a free agent and signed with the Jets earlier this month.
“I’ve seen too many injuries not to value that,” Bell said about the need for higher guarantees. “AB did what he felt was best for him. My situation was different, but we both wanted to get our fair value. That’s what every player wants.”