A 2018 season filled with drama at Steelers headquarters has now spilled into the new year. On Monday, it was reported Pittsburgh benched Antonio Brown for Week 17 not because he was injured, but due to Brown skipping meetings and sitting out practices leading up to the Bengals game. Brown allegedly had a heated dispute with Ben Roethlisberger at Wednesday’s practice. Brown reportedly threw a football at Big Ben, yelled while going off the field, and was deemed inactive on Sunday.
More keeps coming out on this story, and on Tuesday, it was reported Brown “requested” a trade from the Steelers. Big Ben has already downplayed the incident, but Brown has long been one of the biggest drama creators in the league. Word out of Pittsburgh is that Brown didn’t demand a trade, but simply wondered aloud why the Steelers don’t trade him following last week’s incident with Roethlisberger, who is no stranger to drama in his own right. The Steelers have put up with both players’ personalities for a long time, but it is fair to wonder if things have reached a tipping point, especially with the Steelers’ collapse and missing of the playoffs. Brown probably also isn’t thrilled with JuJu Smith-Schuster winning the team MVP award, which would suggest JuJu is the more valuable player at his position over AB. Still one of the game’s very best wideouts, Brown turns 31 next summer and is signed through 2021. He’d cost multiple high draft picks to acquire. At this point, his most likely Week 1 home remains Pittsburgh. But that’s not a lock. Trading him before June 1 would leave behind a $21.12 million dead-money cap hit for the Steelers. That’s prohibitive.
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Coaching Rumors Roundup
There are eight head-coaching jobs open. Below, I’ll lay out the names linked to each job to this point.
Arizona Cardinals — Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor, Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, ex-Dolphins coach Adam Gase, and USC OC Kliff Kingsbury. Ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy has reportedly already turned down the Cardinals. This isn’t a very attractive job with very few pieces on offense. GM Steve Keim’s drafts have been wretched.
Cincinnati Bengals — Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor, Rams pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, current assistant Hue Jackson, current OC Bill Lazor, current STs coach Darrin Simmons, and ex-Broncos coach Vance Joseph. Owner Mike Brown is a big fan of continuity, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Joseph is getting a look despite his failures in Denver. He coached under Marvin Lewis from 2014-2015 as DBs coach.
Cleveland Browns — Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, ex-Dolphins coach Adam Gase, Colts OC Nick Sirianni, Colts DC Matt Eberflus, Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, current interim head coach Gregg Williams, current OC Freddie Kitchens, and ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell. All but two are offensive-minded coaches. The Browns really need to make the right call for Baker Mayfield. Fans seem to want Kitchens to get the gig, and he would be more than deserving after taking over OC duties the second half of the year. Kitchens is a product of the Bruce Arians coaching tree. McCarthy stands a good chance to get the job and will interview Thursday. The Cleveland job is viewed by many as the top one available.
Denver Broncos — Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, ex-Broncos and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, Bears DC Vic Fangio, Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor, ex-Colts coach Chuck Pagano, and Patriots DC Brian Flores. It’s an odd list compared to the other openings. Harbaugh is allegedly GM John Elway’s top choice. Shanahan would be really interesting. Pagano would be a disaster. That would be a step backward from Vance Joseph.
Green Bay Packers — Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak, Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, Patriots DC Brian Flores, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, Titans OC Matt LaFleur, ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell, ex-Colts coach Chuck Pagano, and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. This is probably the best job outside of Cleveland and New York. Green Bay is reportedly hopeful they can speak with Fitzgerald. The rest of the list is a bit uninspiring, though LaFleur is interesting.
Miami Dolphins — Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak, Bears DC Vic Fangio, Cowboys defensive assistant Kris Richard, and current STs coach Darren Rizzi. This is arguably the worst opening out there. Miami is obviously a great place to call home, but owner Stephen Ross makes things incredibly difficult, and this team has no quarterback of the future on the roster.
New York Jets — Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Bucs OC Todd Monken, Cowboys defensive assistant Kris Richard, ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell, ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, and USC OC Kliff Kingsbury. The Jets clearly want an offensive background and someone who can develop Sam Darnold. GM Mike Maccagnan can’t afford to mess up this one. Monken coordinated the Bucs’ high-octane offense and is supremely interesting. Same with Bieniemy and Kingsbury.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, ex-Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, Vikings DC George Edwards, and ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Either the Bucs are keeping things close to the vest, or they’re moving slower than the other teams. Arians’ downfield passing attack would be welcomed back into today’s sport. He’s willing to listen on Tampa and Cleveland’s openings.
Both Mike Davis (foot) and Doug Baldwin (knee) did not practice Tuesday. These are likely more of veteran days off than anything. Both should be good for Saturday’s Wild Card game. … Former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell will interview for the same position in Jacksonville and Atlanta. The Falcons are said to also be eyeing ex-Bucs coach Dirk Koetter. … The Lions and OC Jim Bob Cooter agreed to part ways. That offense was a mess this season. Cooter’s blame share is uncertain, especially since the offense was rolling the previous two years with Cooter calling the plays. Everything went to hell when Matt Patricia was hired. … Keke Coutee (hamstring) is practicing in full for the Wild Card week. He’s missed the last five games. … Nathan Peterman signed a reserve/future contract with the Raiders. … T.Y. Hilton (ankle) did not practice Tuesday. He’s been playing at less than 100% for weeks now. … The Lions signed QB Connor Cook to a reserve/future deal. … Coach Jay Gruden’s job with the Redskins is apparently still in limbo.