BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout the course of the Antonio Brown trade saga, there were some mixed reports about whether the Steelers actually considered trading the receiver to the New England Patriots, who have dominated the AFC for the past decade. We now know that the mixed reports can be attributed to a change of philosophy in the Pittsburgh front office.
We know that after Antonio Brown shared audio of a phone conversation he had with agent Drew Rosenhaus during the process of trade negotiations. Rosenhaus revealed to Brown during that conversation that the Steelers had decided to ultimately come around and listen to offers from the Patriots.
“The Patriots are in the mix. I put [Bill] Belichick in touch with [Steelers GM] Kevin Colbert today,” Rosenhaus told Brown, in the audio shared in The Boomin’ Experience Podcast.
The conversation’s exact date wasn’t shared, but host DJ Legato said it was “one random night.”
“The Steelers have been good communicators with me. We’ve talked a couple times every day about the teams, and they know that it’s important to us, that’s why they opened it up for the Patriots as well,” Rosenhaus said. “And that’s a good development for us, that they’re now willing to trade you to New England. So now it’s a process of New England stepping up, you know?”
Rosenhaus later added: “I think at this point, AB, they’re just ready to get the best compensation regardless of the team. … I think the Steelers are taking it very seriously and trying to get it done, and that’s why they’re willing to consider New England.”
As evidenced by the Raiders making the offer that eventually got the deal done, the Patriots clearly didn’t “step up” to Rosenhaus’ or Brown’s liking. Rosenhaus laid it out in that conversation what he was looking for: a competitive team that was also willing to guarantee a lot of money to Brown after making the deal. Rosenhaus was realistic in that regard when it came to teams like the Patriots or Eagles.
“I think the better the team, quite honestly AB, the harder it might be to get more out of them,” Rosenhaus explained. “They’re such good teams, they probably won’t offer as much as teams that are trying to get better.”
Still, that didn’t stop Rosenhaus or Brown from briefly fantasizing about the all-world receiver suiting up for the Patriots.
“Think about that,” Rosenhaus told Brown. “Think about playing with the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and he’s a cool guy.”
“We need that respect, that guaranteed [money],” Brown said. “Robert Kraft’s a cool guy, too.”
Teams involved in the pursuit of Brown, according to Rosenhaus at the time of the conversation, included New England, Philadelphia, Washington, Tennessee, Buffalo and Oakland.
Of course, Rosenhaus was correct. With the Patriots coming off a Super Bowl victory, the team was not eager to make the biggest offer — both in the trade, and to the receiver’s new contract — in order to land Brown.