Steelers GM: 3 teams have asked about Antonio Brown

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  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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In a vacuum, every team in the NFL would be interested in Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said a few have already entered the A.B. trade market.

"We've had, I'd say, three teams that have touched base with us and we'll see how that grows," Colbert said Friday on Up To the Minute Live. "I think that'll unfold over these next few weeks as teams get better perspective of what else there is available to them."

Brown officially became available Tuesday following a sit-down with Steelers owner Art Rooney II. The two sides finally met after a messy two months that saw the All-Pro wideout benched for the regular-season finale and air out his frustrations on social media.

The 30-year-old Brown is coming off a 2018 season in which he made his seventh Pro Bowl and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns. But moving him isn't without its complications, given his $22 million cap hit. The Steelers have also not given Brown and his representation permission to speak with other teams. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week that Pittsburgh's likely deadline to make a deal is March 17, when Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.

Colbert on Friday wouldn't offer a timetable, or whether he was insisting on a first-round draft pick in return. The Steelers' lead decision-maker, perhaps hoping to gain leverage, instead intimated there's no promise that a trade will take place.

"We're looking at maybe not having this significant player, one of the best football players, not only on our team but in the National Football league," Colbert said. "So of course if you're going to subtract that player from your team, you better have compensation that justifies that. And that's what we're seeking.

"It's really an evolutionary process. We don't know how long it could take. We're open to it. Again, if it doesn't benefit us, we won't do it. And that's as simple as it gets. And that was explained to Antonio and to Drew Rosenhaus, his representative, in a very respectful way. They understand our thinking. If we can accomplish something that happens to benefit both sides, great. But if it doesn't benefit us, it won't happen."

Colbert also addressed his recent comments about Ben Roethlisberger being the Steelers' unquestioned leader, which of course were in response to Brown saying Big Ben carried himself with an "owner's mentality." Colbert, who two days ago said he had no problem with Roethlisberger calling him out, said his franchise quarterback has unique cachet in the locker room because of his championship pedigree, but that he's not above the team.

"Ben doesn't have the authority of the head coach," Colbert said. "Coach [Mike] Tomlin is in charge of this team over anybody, especially once they get into that locker room and those meeting rooms and on the field. And Ben of course respects that more than anybody. Is he going to say some things to some players outside of that? Sure, as he should. He's the leader, and we respect that. But in no means is anybody in charge of this team except Coach Tomlin once they get into the field and into the practice situations.

"I was referencing the younger players on our team and their lack of experience in a Super Bowl-winning environment. Ben is the only one that can say that he has done that. So I think there's tremendous value in that. Does that mean that we got a bunch of juveniles or anything like that? No, of course not. We got some really good veteran players like a Cam Heyward or a Maurkice Pouncey, who are unquestionable leaders as well, but they're still not the Super Bowl-winning type of player that Ben Roethlisberger is. And that's why he is and will continue to be the unquestioned leader of this team and I still think it would be valuable for all of our players to recognize that. And not only ask Ben about that experience but also try to help him get us all back to that Super Bowl win."

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