The Buffalo Bills recently signed CFL standout wide receiver D’haquille “Duke” Williams to augment a unit that currently includes Zay Jones, Robert Foster, Deonte Thompson, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Isaiah McKenzie, Da’Mari Scott, and Victor Bolden Jr. With the general unhappiness among the fan base over Buffalo’s receivers in mind, it seems doubtful that Williams will be the last move general manager Brandon Beane makes to address the position group.
The Bills might find a talent infusion early in the draft. Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf might be on the board when the Bills select at nine. However, Buffalo might look to replace the retired Kyle Williams or upgrade the woeful offensive line. After trading up last year, Beane might choose to trade down, leaving the Bills picking from the second tier of wide receivers.
Free agency will provide the usual wealth of options, though few of the players who will really be available really “pop.” Larry Fitzgerald is 36 and probably won’t leave the Arizona Cardinals if he plays at all in 2019. Golden Tate is likely to be re-signed by the Philadelphia Eagles after they traded for him and after his game-winning touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears. A guy like Donte Moncrief would help Buffalo’s wide receiver unit but probably wouldn’t be the kind of player to take over a game.
That leaves trades. The biggest name in trade talk is Antonio Brown, a highly talented wide receiver who is in the midst of a messy divorce with the Pittsburgh Steelers. By most accounts, Brown chose to go AWOL in Week 17 after having a fallout with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. With Pittsburgh still alive for a playoff slot in the final week of the season, it’s understandable to see why many fans came down hard against Brown. It’s worth remembering that Brown was coming off a 14-reception/185 yards/2 TD performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 right before whatever it is that happened in Pittsburgh. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Antonio Brown can take over a game in the way that Sammy Watkins was supposed to but never really did.
Would head coach Sean McDermott want Antonio Brown? There’s no doubt he would be 100% in favor of having Brown’s abilities and production on the field. The question is whether or not McDermott would want Brown around the meeting rooms. To put it another way, would the three hours of game time outweigh the potential headaches during the other 165 hours of the week?
A couple of things weigh in favor of McDermott signing off on a Beane trade for Brown. First, the reports of the implosion revolve around a pride-fueled spat between Brown and Roethlisberger. That doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue given Buffalo’s young starting quarterback. Josh Allen doesn’t have rings on his fingers so peace would seem to be likely at least for a season or two. Second, McDermott is entering his third year. He knows that if the team doesn’t show remarkable progress in the next two seasons, there’s a very real chance McDermott will be fired. He needs an immediate boost in wide-receiver production.
Brown won’t be cheap, as his current contract—which could be re-done before or after a trade—calls for him to make around $20 million per season for the next three years. Buffalo, with oodles of cap space, could easily absorb Brown’s deal in large part due to quarterback Josh Allen’s cheap rookie contract. Then there is the cost of the trade itself.
The Steelers are in something of a precarious position. Everyone knows Brown is likely to be elsewhere in 2019—a factor that drives the price down a bit. Interest in Brown by multiple teams will mitigate that to an extent. The other factor is that Ben Roethlisberger is 37 years old and that he has openly flirted with retirement. He is due to sign an extension but it’s undeniable that Pittsburgh’s window is closing. Losing a weapon like Brown would hurt.
But what if the Bills shipped the Steelers a weapon as part of the deal? LeSean McCoy saw his production plummet in 2018. He’s currently due to make $9 million in 2019 and, despite Beane’s recent happy talk, may find himself traded this off-season. McCoy could get an extension from Pittsburgh while providing Roethlisberger a very different type of weapon than Antonio Brown. It would take more than just LeSean McCoy to get Antonio Brown, even with the drama of the moment.
The question is, what are Rumblers willing to add? It doesn’t seem possible to add a poll to this sort of post, so put your thoughts in the comments as to the MOST you’d be willing to send to the Steelers for Antonio Brown—even if it’s nothing at all due to him going AWOL on his team.