La Canfora says that the Steelers are looking for at a first first-round pick in return for Brown and believe his contract will be very easy to trade.
Beyond that, Pittsburgh believes they can easily offset the $21 million cap hit they would take by trading Brown.
La Canfora expects there to be a robust market for Brown that could include Seahawks, Colts, Saints, 49ers, Packers, and Eagles. Team sources have told La Canfora that the Ravens, Browns and Patriots are expected to have significant interest in Brown, but there’s “virtually no chance” they would trade him to a rival.
According to La Canfora, there’s still a chance that the Steelers and Brown reverse course, but it would require him to mend fences with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin.
Brown has reportedly rebuffed multiple phone calls from the owner and repeated attempts to contact him by Tomlin and members of the front office.
This report comes a few days after Steelers president Art Rooney II said they won’t release Brown, but “all other options are on the table.”
“There’s not much we can do right now; we have time to make a decision,” Rooney said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’ll look at all the options. We’re not going to release him, that’s not on the table. But I will say all other options are on the table.
“Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year, we’re a long way away from thinking that can happen. We’re not closing the door on anything at this point.”
Rooney went as far to say that it would be “hard to envision” Brown being with the Steelers when they report to training camp in July.
“As we sit here today, it’s hard to envision that,” Rooney said of Brown returning for the 2019 season. “But there’s no sense on closing the door on anything today. There’s snow on the ground. We don’t have to make those decisions right now.”
- Chris Mortensen recently reported the expectation now is that Brown is “more likely to be traded” at the start of the 2019 league year in March.
- Adam Schefter added that the Steelers also plan to sign QB Ben Roethlisberger to an extension, which would create additional cap room and make it easier to trade Brown if that’s what they elect to do.
Brown is owed a $2.5 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year, which could work as a deadline of sorts for the Steelers to trade him.
Brown, 30, is a former sixth-round pick of the Steelers back in 2010. He’s currently in the third year of his five-year, $72.71 million contract that included a $19 million signing bonus and stands to make base salaries of $12.625 million and $11.3 million over the next two years of the agreement.
Trading Brown would be really tough for the Steelers, considering that they would take a $21.12 million cap hit by moving him before June 1. After that, the dead money hit drops to $7.04 million with the remainder being carried on their 2020 salary cap.
In 2018, Brown appeared in 15 games for the Steelers and caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns.