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Additional sourcing casting doubt on Rapoport report of “imminent” Buffalo Bills Antonio Brown trade

It ain’t over until it’s over.

In the wee hours of the morning, NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport dropped a bombshell: The Buffalo Bills were “closing in on” a deal to trade for Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. “There it is,” his flourish of choice on the report. While Rapoport later couched his initial statement by saying “there are things to work out,” he was also willing to say that the deal was “close to being done.”

Until a report is seen with someone’s own two eyes or confirmed by one of the parties, the job of independent journalists is to verify a possible lead with their own research and sources, in order to build a better picture of the story. The initial returns from local beat reporters are more skeptical of Rapoport’s story, stepping back a bit from the imminent implication.

First was Buffalo News reporter Vic Carucci, commenting that an NFL source told him the Bills had contacted the Steelers about a trade, but that the source said talks weren’t close to completion. A different source of Carucci’s considered the proposition “unlikely” altogether.

Later, Associated Press reporter John Wawrow was firm that nothing was “imminent”, based on his research. He was told that the Bills contacted the Steelers out of due diligence, and considered the concept of a trade as “less than likely”.

For another angle of perspective, though, WIVB Sports Director Josh Reed reported that a source had told him something would happen “soon” regarding an Antonio Brown trade, and that the Bills were “in the hunt”.

A possible explanation for the downcast news from Buffalo’s beat reporters could be Brown himself, doing his best to sabotage the deal. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Brown wants a new contract, and that he could hold a weapon of threatening to retire rather than play in Buffalo under his current deal.

Of course, the Bills are intimately familiar with trading for a star who definitely didn’t want to come to Buffalo. And with paying that star beaucoup bucks to help ease him into his new setting. Still, that was another regime.

Late into the night, after the conflicting reports began to surface, Rapoport eased back into his chair and offered one more tweet to the world: “Friday should be interesting.”