Pittsburgh Steelers

Eagles should steer clear of Antonio Brown

Eagles should steer clear of Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown appears hell-bent on forcing his way out of Pittsburgh, which naturally will prompt the usual “Should the Eagles trade for [insert wide receiver’s name]” discussions. Guarantee you, somebody, somewhere is suggesting the Eagles send Jalen Mills and a third-round draft pick to the Steelers right now.

Don’t count on the Steelers parting with Brown so easily, because anything less than a one is far too little to pay for the most prolific pass catcher of the last six years, and because the club will not be so willing to cave to an egomaniacal diva’s every whim. Yet, at a certain point, holding on to a disgruntled superstar probably does the franchise more harm than good, making a move here increasingly likely (though it should be noted, Brown’s contract makes it difficult for the Steelers to trade him).

So, let’s just jump out in front of this today: No, the Eagles should not be in the market for Antonio Brown.

Sure, Brown’s talent is undeniable. Since 2013, he’s averaged 114 catches, 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns per season. We’re talking Jerry Rice levels of production.

With Randy Moss-Terrell Owens levels of headaches. If Brown is unhappy in Pittsburgh, a perennial Super Bowl contender with a Hall of Fame quarterback under center, what makes anybody believe he isn't bringing that bad attitude with him?

Brown is somebody who will make noise if he isn’t getting the ball as much as he thinks he should. He’s not above skipping meetings or practices to show his displeasure. Teammates described behavior that reportedly made Brown a healthy Week 17 scratch as “embarrassing” and “the worst I’ve seen.” And in addition to the selfish behaviors that have taken place in front of cameras, on social media and behind the scenes, there’s a growing pile of legal troubles off the field, too, including a domestic incident the NFL is looking into.

Can you imagine somebody like this in the Eagles’ locker room, which players frequently described as a family-like atmosphere over the past two years?

Perhaps it’s fortunate the Eagles couldn’t easily afford Brown, anyway. Forget whatever the cost of swinging the trade — the club is up against the salary cap, and his current $12.6 million base salary for 2019 would be hard to swallow. Then it's only a matter of time until he wants a new contract.

Brown turns 31 in July, and though he remains one of the most productive receivers in the league, his numbers have dipped some since his bonkers 2013-15 seasons. We’re not talking about somebody whose best days are still ahead.

Nor is receiver one of the Eagles’ biggest needs. Alshon Jeffery is a superstar. Zach Ertz is a tight end posting receiver-level production. Nelson Agholor is a fine supporting player and Dallas Goedert could have a bigger role in the offense next season. It wouldn’t hurt to add talent here, just not at the expense of $12 million and a bunch of draft picks, and certainly not for a malcontent in his 30s.

You probably don’t need to worry about the Eagles going after Brown, and all the evidence indicates they shouldn’t.

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How realistic of a path do Eagles have to trading for Steelers' Le'Veon Bell?

How realistic of a path do Eagles have to trading for Steelers' Le'Veon Bell?

The Eagles may have gone from long shots to trade for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to odds-on favorites Monday.

A potential move that once made little sense for the Eagles suddenly became a legitimate option out of necessity with the news Jay Ajayi is out for the season. The offense didn’t need a feature back two weeks ago. Now, the situation seems dire.

Yet, there is still some question as to how realistic it is for the Eagles to pursue Bell. The most immediate issue was always the salary cap, a problem that won’t go away easily.

The Eagles have just north of $4 million in cap room. Signing Bell to his one-year salary guaranteed by the franchise tag would cost roughly twice that amount for half the season, depending when exactly he decided to come in.

NFL insiders have pitched ways for the Eagles to create space. Jason La Canfora suggested they could trade Nick Foles, which assumes there’s a market for the backup quarterback’s services. John Clayton proposed restructuring Fletcher Cox’s contract, which the Eagles reportedly did hours after Ajayi went on injured reserve – though Chris Mortensen stressed connecting the restructuring to Bell rumors would be “extremely misleading,” and the new money is for extending current players.

Even if it can be done, there are additional factors to consider. The Steelers are said to want as high as a second-round draft pick plus a “good” player in return, which is a steep price to pay for a rental. And while Bell says he intends to report to the Steelers in Week 7, the Eagles need some type of assurance he would show up, preferably ASAP.

The chances of trading for Bell may have increased exponentially, but huge hurdles remain.

Given all the complications, the Eagles might be inclined to look at other possibilities. Former second-round pick Ameer Abdullah has fallen completely out of favor in Detroit’s crowded backfield. The Patriots are currently stashing Kenjon Barner, who already knows the offense.

We’re not exactly talking about All-Pros here, but let’s be realistic about the Eagles’ situation, too. Their record fell to 2-3, and with their next game on Thursday already, they could fall to 2-4 before a new guy even walks in the building. Is it still Super Bowl or bust?

There’s little doubt the Eagles are taking a long, hard look at Bell right now, nor would it be unlike general manager Howie Roseman to pull off a blockbuster deal. But if anything does happen, it’s probably at least a week or two away. Roseman would be wise to see whether they can get back to .500 first, perhaps even wait to confirm the absentee ball carrier actually reports to the Steelers before making a move.

With all that in mind, Bell to the Eagles still seems like a long shot. 

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Le'Veon Bell trade rumors: Why Steelers RB doesn't make sense for Eagles

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Le'Veon Bell trade rumors: Why Steelers RB doesn't make sense for Eagles

Le’Veon Bell has been arguably the most productive running back in the NFL since he entered the league.

Since Bell’s rookie season in 2013, only LeSean McCoy had more all-purpose yards heading into this season. 

The Steelers' star back would like to be paid accordingly and has held out the first three games of the season. Pittsburgh seems unwilling to pay the two-time All-Pro and ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Steelers are now listening to offers for the 26-year-old back.

Paging Howie Roseman, am I right?!

While Roseman has been more than willing to make trades — and the Eagles are certainly in the business of adding talent to aid their Super Bowl defense — this just doesn’t seem like the right move for the Eagles.

Bell wants to be paid and he wants big money — think Todd Gurley’s $21.95 million guaranteed and $14 million annual contract value. The Eagles currently have just $5,305,588, per Over the Cap. On top of that, the Eagles are projected to be $20,062,232 over the cap heading into 2019. 

And don’t forget about Carson Wentz’s looming extension. There’s a good chance Carson Wentz will wind up being the highest-paid player in the NFL by the year 2020. It’s hard to envision a scenario where they can sign Bell to a long-term deal and still have money left over for Wentz.

So while adding a back like Bell would make the Eagles’ offense an absolute juggernaut, it just doesn’t make sense given Bell’s desire for a long-term deal.

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