All the turmoil won't magically disappear. Ben Roethlisberger is a Hall of Fame quarterback and a drama king. Mike Tomlin's teams annually drop random games to inferior opponents because they aren't buttoned-up. Brown deserves blame for quitting in Week 17. Major blame. But the current issues with this proud franchise run deeper than No. 84. Not to mention, Brown's exit will represent an immense loss in productivity. In fact, with Le'Veon Bell leaving at the same time, this feels like an unprecedented talent drain.
But this has to happen. I might not like it, but the bridge is burned.
In the meantime, Brown is hardly doing himself any favors. From his controversial Twitter Q&As to his self-imposed nicknames to the appearance on HBO's "The Shop" to his ESPN sit-down where he expresses his current indifference to football ... It's too much -- far too much. And then the age. And the desire for more guaranteed money. And did I mention the quitting in a must-win season finale?
Having said all that, I still maintain Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the NFL today. Turning 31 in July, he's already carved out a Hall of Fame career. He's not for everyone, but the suitors will be plentiful. And negotiations should get piping-hot with the rightful expectation that the Steelers will trade Brown before his $2.5 million roster bonus comes due March 17.
So, here's a list of the teams most likely to trade for AB (with probability percentages attached!), Schein Nine style:
1) OAKLAND RAIDERS: 29 percent chance
Oakland certainly has the cap room: nearly $73 million, per Over The Cap. Jon Gruden will take character risks to increase the talent base. And these Raidersneed talent, particularly in the pass-catching department. (Don't forget: Last year's team leader in receiving yards, tight end Jared Cook, is a free agent.) Brown is a star. Gruden loves stars and needs new toys for Derek Carr and his offense.
Another thing Oakland has plenty of: draft capital. The Raiders own four of the top 35 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. And here's the thing: Given all of Brown's aforementioned antics, I think the Steelers will be forced to sell low on the four-time All-Pro wideout. If that's the case, Oakland can spend its three first-rounders on defense -- this is a spectacular defensive draft and the Raiders need help all over that side of the ball -- and toss Pittsburgh its high second-rounder in exchange for Brown. This would be a major win for the Raiders. But watch out for the team across the Bay ...
2) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: 22 percent chance
While Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch said at the NFL Scouting Combine that they haven't reached out to the Steelers on this front, they still can. And should. I firmly believe this is the best overall fit for AB. I think Shanahan is a fantastic offensive mind. His first year in San Francisco was derailed by fluky injuries. With a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo in 2019 -- and don't forget about Jerick McKinnon coming back as a pass-catching back -- this team will be ready for take-off. Imagine George Kittle and Brown lining up for Jimmy G.
Again, I don't blame Shanahan at all for the win-loss record in Year 1, but here's the cold, hard truth: This is a results-based league. It's go time, so go get the NFL's best receiver!
3) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: 16 percent chance
This kind of acquisition would be nothing new for these 'Hawks. Pete Carroll and John Schneider don't ever mind characters with talent. Carroll has a knack for maximizing such individuals, getting them to play hard while still allowing them to be themselves. It's kind of Carroll's genius.
4) GREEN BAY PACKERS: 11 percent chance
Green Bay needs this kind of difference-maker. Right now in the NFC North, the Bears and Vikings have more talent. Brian Gutekunst and Co. cannot be scared of risk, like Ted Thompson was (specifically with Marshawn Lynch). Can you imagine Davante Adams and Brown lining up for the most talented quarterback in league history? Now we are talking playoffs. And beyond.
Last offseason, I lobbied for the Packers to get Khalil Mack. Instead, he went to Chicago and became an instant Packer tormentor. Green Bay has a pair of first-round picks in April, thanks to last year's draft-day trade with New Orleans. While I already said Pittsburgh might be forced to sell low due to Brown's recent antics, if I'm Gutekunst, I give up that Saints pick (No. 30 overall) to get Brown. Green Bay needs to get back in the conversation -- acquiring a 100-catch scoring machine would certainly move the dial.
5) TENNESSEE TITANS: 10 percent chance
Tennessee could use a jolt in the passing attack. And the standings. The Titans have some talent and good coaching, but the Colts and Texans are better. And if (when) Jacksonville signs Nick Foles, the Jags are right back in the AFC South race. Mike Vrabel has the right demeanor to get through to Brown, who would get the Titans into the end zone more frequently.
This is a huge season for Marcus Mariota, who's entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract. The 25-year-old QB needs to take a big step forward or Tennessee could be forced to start over at quarterback. Something tells me a weapon like Brown could help the young singal-caller's development just a bit ...
6) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: 6 percent chance
This is a front office that's never afraid to roll the dice, but last year's Marcus Davenport YOLO draft leaves the Saints without a first-rounder in April. In fact, New Orleans only has one selection in the top 165 picks: a late second-rounder (No. 62 overall). So this kind of trade wouldn't be easy. And that's why the probability here is in the single digits.
7) DENVER BRONCOS: 3 percent chance
8) ARIZONA CARDINALS: 2 percent chance
9) WASHINGTON REDSKINS: 1 percent chance
The 'Skins have gotten some mention in the AB derby, given their need at wide receiver. But let me ask you a question: When was the last time Washington had a first-team All-Pro? Keep dreaming.