They’re doing their best to deny it, but the situation between Antonio Brown and the Steelers has escalated quickly.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, the Steelers wide receiver has asked for a trade, because of lingering issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin.
The follows reports that Brown blew up at Roethlisberger last week, leading the team to cook up a fake injury report to explain his absence when he was actually benched.
Of course, there’s a big difference between asking for a trade and getting one, for several reasons.
For one, they’d take a $21 million dead money hit to deal him now, making it difficult from an economic and roster-construction standpoint.
But there’s also the reality that it’s January 1, and emotions are running high after a season that started poorly (the Le'Veon Bell drama which pitted teammates against him when he failed to show up) and never seemed to get better, ending with them missing the playoffs.
Salary cap issues aside, Brown remains one of the best players in the league, and even though JuJu Smith-Schuster is emerging, dealing such a high-quality player would make returning to the playoffs more difficult.