For those who don’t stay up after midnight, you woke up this morning to the news that Antonio Brown was finally dealt from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders.
Raiders are trading a third- and a fifth-round pick to the Steelers for WR Antonio Brown, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2019
One of the greatest wide receivers of all time has now been moved to a rebuilding team for dirt cheap. AB (aka “Mr. Big Chest”) will still have fantasy relevance, of course, but that’s a different article for a different time.
This conversation is all about the vacancy in a highly productive offense in Pittsburgh and the obvious replacement sitting in waiting.
His name? John “Smokey” Brown.
John Brown Is Currently A Free Agent
For anyone who follows the NFL closely over the years, there’s been no denying the talent and ability of Brown.
John Brown smokes the defense on his way to a #Ravens TD 🙌#RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/pVtdbYFVab
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) October 1, 2018
He’s a refined route runner, tracks the ball extremely well on deep routes and easily creates separation. He surprisingly wins in contested catches for someone his size and has put up great production when on the field.
However, that’s been the main issue; staying on the field.
Brown was diagnosed with sickle cell trait back in 2016. He dealt with this issue throughout his remaining time in Arizona and the Cardinals let him walk in free agency because of it.
He signed a one year “prove it” deal with the Baltimore Ravens last season and showed out during his time with Joe Flacco at Quarterback.
Joe Flacco hits John Brown for a 71-yard gain. pic.twitter.com/cGIma2DICa
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 1, 2018
At the time when Flacco was benched, John Brown was on pace for 60 receptions, 1,068 yards and 7 touchdowns…with Joe Flacco as his quarterback.
He stayed healthy the entire year and proved that it’s not a prevailing issue for him. He’s now free to sign with any team that wants him and the Steelers should be very interested.
Brown Would Step Right Into AB’s Role
From a comparison standpoint, AB and John Brown are very similar types of players. Both are traditionally undersized, but win with sure hands and refined route running.
John Brown gets BOTH feet down to get the Ravens on the board 🙌 (via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/2rKwsy0j0G
— ESPN (@espn) August 21, 2018
John Brown paired up with a quarterback like Big Ben Roethsliberger would be a fantasy dream come true. There would be just a projected slight drop-off in production in the Steelers offense between AB and Smokey and, most of all, the money part makes sense.
The Steelers are now in trouble because of the cap hit AB left behind, so they’re going to need to be creative in order to maximize their team outlook for 2019. According to Spotrac.com, John Brown’s estimated market value is a 2 year contract for 12 million dollars.
Obviously, Brown could be in demand in a relatively weak free agent class and a bidding war could ensue. The asking price could quickly get outside of what the Steelers are able to offer, but few places are going to be able to offer the opportunity Pittsburgh will.
In 15 games last year, Antonio Brown received 168 targets. If John Brown walks into that AB role, with a slight drop off in targets, he’s easily still a borderline WR1.
Watch out for Brown this free agency period. He could immediately go from fantasy write-off to fantasy superstardom.
Best of all, the Steelers can give Brown the #84 and no jerseys will go to waste!