The Antonio Brown saga continues.
Steelers owner Art Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on Thursday that it’s “hard to envision” the seven-time Pro Bowler as part of the team when they report to camp in July. The statement is the first concrete, on-the record indication that the Steelers are looking to trade Brown this offseason.
Like clockwork, 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley continued the team’s efforts to recruit the WR, by tweeting a hand-waving emoji at Brown, in response to the receiver posting a picture of himself shaking hands with Rooney.
— Joe Staley (@jstaley74) January 11, 2019
Some context: Brown reportedly requested a trade early last week after he sat out of the Steelers season finale, following a dispute with Ben Rothlisberger. 49ers tight end George Kittle was quick to reach out to Brown, tweeting “Sup?” at the seven-time Pro Bowler. Brown responded with a starry eyed emoji. Both Richard Sherman and Jimmy Garoppolo seemed to support Kittle’s recruiting effort.
— George Kittle (@gkittle46) January 1, 2019
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) January 1, 2019
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 1, 2019
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) January 1, 2019
On Wednesday Brown followed the 49ers on Instagram before posting the picture of Rice.
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) January 2, 2019
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) January 2, 2019
Though Brown, 30, wants out, it’s unclear what the price tag would be for the wideout who finished with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and a career-high 15 touchdowns during the 2018 season. Brown’s current deal with the Steelers runs through 2021, with an average annual salary of $17 million.
The 49ers have been in the market for a true No. 1 wide receiver since John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took over. The combination of Brown and Kittle would rival the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce for the most potent WR/TE combination in the NFL. Kittle’s 1,377 receiving yards in 2018 were the most gained in a single-season by a TE in NFL history.