One of the top-producing wide receivers of the past decade is openly available for a trade, but 28 teams have yet to inquire about the cost it would take to acquire him.
Are the 49ers one of only three teams to make a call to the Pittsburgh Steelers about the possibility of acquiring All-Pro Antonio Brown or are they in the majority? A 49ers spokesman declined comment when asked if the 49ers are among the teams to pursue trade talks.
“Teams have reached out,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Friday on the NFL Network. “We’ve had, I’d say, three teams that have touched base with us, and we’ll see where that grows. I think it will continue to grow.”
Brown, who turns 31 in July, has been named as a Pro Bowl player seven times in his career. He has produced six consecutive seasons with at least 101 receptions and 1,284 yards.
But Brown was also at the center of numerous off-field issues and dramas during his time with the Steelers. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan has often talked about the importance he places on character, work ethic and a team-first mentality when paying big money to a veteran player.
Trade discussions for Brown are expected to pick up next week when decision-makers for every team converge on Indianapolis for the annual NFL Scouting Combine.
The Steelers have not made public what they expect to receive in a trade for Brown, but Colbert said his team will not part ways with Brown if the compensation does not match the quality of the player they would be losing.
“If you’re going to subtract that player from your team, you better have compensation that justifies that,” Colbert said. “And that’s what we’re seeking. The demand and the interest in a potential player like Antonio Brown being available, I think that’ll unfold over these next few weeks as teams get a better perspective of what else there is available to them and whether or not they have the cap space, whether or not he stacks favorably against potential free agents and the draft.
“It’s really an evolutionary process that really we don’t know how long it could take. We’re open to it. But, again, if it doesn’t benefit us, we won’t do it.”
The 49ers have a need at wide receiver, as the club is looking to add a starter in the offseason. The club is expected to decline the option on veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon, leaving the 49ers with Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Richie James as its top wide receivers.