In the wake of Brown's latest declaration that it's "time to move on and forward," we're inching closer to a messy divorce. Pittsburgh, however, currently has no incentive to make a move for the next month.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport noted Wednesday on Good Morning Football that the likely deadline for the Steelers potentially trading Brown is March 17, when a $2.5 million roster bonus is due.
"They actually have their own timetable, too," Rapoport said of the Steelers. "Antonio Brown would clearly like things to be done. The Steelers are going to be a little more patient, a little more prudent to try to make sure if they move on from one of the best receivers in the NFL they get the maximum value. The deadline: March 17. That is when the Steelers would pay him a $2.5 million roster bonus. If he's on the team at that point, it's a clear indication he's going to be there's for 2019. Otherwise, expect that to be around the time when A.B. is moved on from Pittsburgh."
Rapoport added that the Steelers have not given Brown's agent Drew Rosenhaus permission to actively seek out potential trade offers.
While Brown might attempt to hissy-fit his way out sooner, the Steelers have little incentive to move on from the superstar receiver until they maximize their leverage. Unless a team overpays, that leverage wouldn't hit its height until after the beginning of free agency, which opens on March 13.
If a few teams that were searching for a veteran receiver swing and miss, they could find themselves in position to up a potential offer for Brown. The bleak-looking receiver market helps Pittsburgh's cause in this regard.