If the Green Bay Packers are truly of a “win now” mindset then they would trade for Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown as soon as possible.
Brown reportedly had a spat with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at Wednesday’s walkthrough and it ended with Brown chucking a ball at the QB before leaving the practice field. Brown then went on to miss the remaining practices and meetings for the week leading up to the Steelers game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was subsequently inactive for the game that was a must win for Pittsburgh in order to have a chance at reaching the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens, however, defeated the Cleveland Browns thus clinching the AFC North and keeping the Steelers from the postseason.
The 30-year-old receiver has built up a reputation over the years as being a bit of a diva for his sideline antics and quarrels with coaches. Nonetheless, Brown has been an outstanding player and has even been an MVP candidate in recent years.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Brown has indeed requested a trade citing the relationship between Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin as the main issue.
When asked on Wednesday if Brown had quit on the Steelers Tomlin said, “you can call it what you want to call it.”
Both sides have clearly reached an impasse that may be too large to make amends. Pittsburgh could have trouble dealing the troubled receiver who is currently the second highest paid player for his position behind Odel Beckham Jr.
On the other side of things, it’s not often that a player of Brown’s caliber hits the trade block so he will have some potential suitors. The Packers are one of the few teams with the draft capital and cap room to possibly reach a deal.
While Brown does not possess the typical attitude the Packers look for in their players, they couldn’t possibly turn their nose to his talent. Therefore, general manager Brian Gutekunst would have to consider if Brown is worth the possible headaches if they were to acquire him. In my mind he is.
Green Bay hasn’t made a move for a player with this high a skill set since Charles Woodson in 2006 free agency and that led to a Lombardi trophy. Brown is one of, if not the best, route runner in the NFL and is well on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer.
The Packers have a need at wide receiver with only a handful of young receivers to compliment Davante Adams with their most veteran receiver, Randall Cobb, set to hit the open market this offseason.
Worth noting, Brown has several Pro-Bowl years left in him and is under contract through 2021.
Now picture Aaron Rodgers surrounded by the likes of Adams and Brown who can not only win on the outside but in the slot as well. Green Bay’s offense has lacked a true slot presence in 2018 which has contributed to problems on third down and in the red zone.
Rodgers has stated he would like to see Cobb return to Green Bay, but he would excel throwing to a guy like Brown. Brown commands constant attention from defenses and has reached at least 100 receptions in each of the last six seasons. He may not see that rate continue in Green Bay, but he also hasn’t played with a quarterback quite like Rodgers.
This would come at a cost considering if the Packers did want to pursue Brown, it would mean parting ways with one of their first rounds picks in this year’s draft which has its own risks. They could either hand over the 12th overall pick or assemble a package deal that included their rights to the New Orleans Saints’ 2019 first rounder.
In order for the Packers to get back in contention for a Super Bowl, it will require a home run 2019 draft or a move for a guy like Brown. Rodgers’ window is closing and it has become quite obvious watching Green Bay’s offense that he can no longer do it all himself. It’s time to make life easier for Rodgers and surround him with as much talent as possible.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.