Antonio Brown trade: Pros, cons of 49ers possibly acquiring receiver

Antonio Brown trade: Pros, cons of 49ers possibly acquiring receiver

Veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown on Tuesday said goodbye to the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base.

Since the end of the season, he has made it known he wishes to play for the 49ers.

Of course, Brown remains under contract to the Steelers, so the 49ers are not allowed to publicly discuss the potential of Brown playing in Santa Clara next season.

Behind the scenes, though, the 49ers have discussed the possibilities and weighed the pros and cons associated with such a move.

Here are some of the elements the 49ers would have to consider in making a decision at what level to pursue Brown:


Brown is a seven-time Pro Bowl receiver and four-time All Pro selection. He has six consecutive seasons of 1,200 yards or more receiving. The 49ers need an upgrade at wide receiver.

Kendrick Bourne led the wideouts last season with 487 yards. In 2017, Marquise Goodwin had 962 yards receiving, but coach Kyle Shanahan considers Goodwin more of a role player. Brown's presence could take pressure off tight end George Kittle, as well as attract attention away from everyone else on offense.


Brown has been in the NFL for nine seasons and turns 31 in July. Will Brown still be a productive player when the 49ers are in a position to be legitimate contenders? The 49ers want to pursue a younger player, such as 26-year-old Odell Beckham, whose window of vast production is likely to be open longer. 


Brown is making it difficult for the Steelers to keep him around, regardless of what they get in return. He would count $21 million in dead money, but the Steelers will probably need to make a decision by March 18, when he is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.

The 49ers would likely not have to give up a pick on either of the first two days of the draft. They could also send an expendable player to the Steelers in return.


Despite being an ultra-productive player on a team that was always in contention, Brown was unhappy. That is a red flag. He had his issues with Ben Roethlisberger. Those two teamed up for more than 100 receptions six consecutive seasons.

Roethlisberger is about as good as it could have gotten for Brown to maximize his abilities. If he is not happy with his star status with the Steelers, how would he respond in the likely event his production drops with a new team?


The 49ers do not want to give up compensation to the Steelers that could prevent them from building out the remainder of team. But if the Steelers can’t find a trade partner, they might be inclined to cut him. That would make him a free agent, and any team could sign him without surrendering a valuable draft pick.


If Brown hits the open market, the 49ers would still have to come through with a big-money contract to prevent him from signing elsewhere. Currently, Brown is on the books for the Steelers to make $15.125 million this year, $11.3 million in 2020, and $12.5 million in 2021.


The 49ers have an estimated $60 million in salary cap space, so they would have little problem fitting in a lucrative contract for a proven player.


Shanahan and general manager John Lynch always say that players pay attention to who gets the big contracts. Those high-priced players become the models for the rest of the team. Brown experienced drama within the Steelers locker room and off the field, too.

[RELATED: Could Antonio Brown cost 49ers just a sixth-round draft pick in trade?]


The 49ers have restructured their coaching staff. Mike LaFleur coached the wide receivers the past two seasons. LaFleur is regarded as an excellent coach. But new receivers coach Wes Welker was an All-Pro wide receiver who steps in with instant credibility and a way to relate to players, such as Brown, that LaFleur could not.


The 49ers might be more willing to take a risk if they believe they are just one player away from being championship contenders. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to experience some rough patches. After all, he has started only 10 career games and has a lot to learn.

He is also coming off an ACL injury that limited him to just three games last season. The 49ers must continue to exercise patience, as the team looks to build its culture.

Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid resolve pending grievances against NFL


Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid resolve pending grievances against NFL

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have settled their collusion grievances against the National Football League with a confidential settlement, lawyers representing both men and the NFL announced Friday in a joint statement.

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL," the statement read. "As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

Kaepernick, 31, has remained out of the NFL since the end of the 2016 season. He played six seasons with the 49ers and became the center of a nationwide controversy with his decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem as a protest against racial inequality during the 2016 season.

Reid, 27, joined Kaepernick in the protest, which began during the exhibition season in 2016. Reid continued his protest in 2017 with the 49ers and last season with the Carolina Panthers. Reid is a six-year NFL veteran who played his first five seasons with the 49ers.

While Kaepernick has not played in the NFL the past two seasons, Reid experienced a slow free-agent market last offseason before finally signing with the Panthers in late September. Reid appeared in 13 games for the Panthers and last week signed a three-year extension worth more than $21 million.

The NFL Players Association released the following statement:

"Today, we were informed by the NFL of the settlement of the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion cases. We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel. We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well."

[RELATED: AAF reportedly interested in Kaepernick]

In August, an arbitrator denied the NFL’s request to throw out the claims that owners conspired to keep Kaepernick out of the league because of his protests. The grievance was scheduled to be heard this month.

In November 2017, attorney Mark Geragos, representing Kaepernick, notified the NFL they were seeking electronic communications, including text messages and emails, of personnel from NFL teams that were linked to Kaepernick.

AAF has interest in signing Colin Kaepernick, just like the NFL should


AAF has interest in signing Colin Kaepernick, just like the NFL should

We don't know when or if Colin Kaepernick will ever play football again.

We do know, however, that even if the NFL isn't interested in his services, someone else is.

According to Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk, the Alliance of American Football recently reached out to Kaepernick to gauge his interest in playing in the new football league.

Per Williams' report, AAF co-founder Bill Polian told The Athletic that CEO Charlie Ebersol was the one to reach out to Kaepernick.

"I don’t know what transpired, but he’s obviously not playing," Polian said.

The AAF is in its debut season, but one of the early critiques of the league is its lack of quality quarterbacks. In addition to Kaepernick, the AAF reportedly also reached out to former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who declined.

After news of the AAF's contact with Kaepernick broke, Barry Wilner of the Associated Press subsequently reported that Kaepernick's reasoning for declining to join the AAF was financially motivated.

According to Wilner's report, a person with knowledge of the conversation told the Associated Press that Kaepernick, "wanted $20 million or more to consider playing with the league that had its debut last weekend." That person spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Not to question anyone's credibility, but that $20 million number is awfully hard to believe, for several reasons.

For one, it's a number that would dwarf all other salaries in the league. AAF players sign three-year contracts worth a total of $250,000.

Additionally, there is nothing in Kaepernick's past that would support the notion that he's in it for the money. Just think about all the money he's donated out of his own pockets to the numerous social causes that have undoubtedly played a major role in his shunning from the NFL.

And, finally, if the NFL was going to find a way to try to sully Kaepernick's character and land a punch in the arena of public opinion, wouldn't leaking a false claim such as that $20 million number make a lot of sense?

[RELATED: Colorado sports store closes after Nike, Kaepernick boycott]

The AAF wants Kaepernick, much like the NFL should.

But that $20 million number?

That doesn't make any sense.