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Should the Colts trade for Antonio Brown?

Taking a look at the two scenarios that the Colts could be facing when it comes to dealing with the Wide Receiver situation

Earlier this week, Stampede Blue presented the fan community with the same question regarding pending free agent Le’Veon Bell. After quite a bit of conversation, and a timely updated from the Steelers front office confirming that he Bell will become an unrestricted free agent, it seemed like the same conversation could make some sense regarding Bell’s All Pro teammate.

Rather than simply writing about why the Colts should or should not trade for Antonio Brown, we will discuss some hypothetical paths Ballard could take and which of those paths is most attractive to the Colts fan community.


Pay cheap for a WR with high upside and use a draft pick (or two) on the position:

This is the argument most fans have been clamoring for. Pay cheap for a guy like DeVante Parker, or pay a little more for Tyrell Williams, and then spend a second rounder on someone like AJ Brown or Deebo Samuel, or a third rounder on someone like Riley Ridley.

In theory, this would make sense as you would get a talented player who for some reason, whether quarterback play or coaching or scheme, has not flourished and you give him another shot at being a starter. This tends to not work out, as I seriously struggled to find someone that recently signed a contract for less than $6,000,000 per year at the WR position while increasing their production. Let me just list a few:

  • Ryan Grant, WR Colts
  • Cameron Meredith, WR Saints
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR Jets
  • Kamar Aiken, WR FA
  • Corey Coleman, WR Giants
  • Danny Amendola, WR Dolphins

If you get lucky maybe you land a John Brown-type player (42 receptions, 715 yards, 5 TDs), but it sincerely isn’t going to get much better than that if you want to get a cheap WR. Even when you pay more than 6 million you may still end up with a Kenny Stills, Donte Moncrief, Paul Richardson, Jordy Nelson, Tavon Austin, etc.

In all truthfulness, a reliable WR receiver is hard to come by nowadays, and teams with one are hanging on for dear life.

But then you might say, “Well Alvaro, the draft is surely littered with great talent” and to that, I’d have to respond with “.....Maybe”.

This draft does look like it has more potential than previous ones, but you have to be careful with taking wide receivers early. The use of spread offenses at the collegiate level has led to coaches preferring athletes that can out-muscle and outrun defenders instead of wide receivers who run a surplus of route combinations to gain separation.

So, certainly, NFL coaches must have noticed this and are drafting wide receivers much later? In fact, no. If anything they are taking them slightly earlier than before.

I personally believe that players that run great routes are more valuable than those who run in the 4.20s and 4.30s or are incredible physical specimens. Unfortunately, the league seems to disagree with me, as players like Phillip Dorsett, John Ross, Corey Davis, Cordalle Patterson, Tavon Austin, Josh Doctson, Will Fuller, Laquon Treadwell, and the likes have been drafted very high in the past years.

I would even say that our very own GM has fallen in this trap, as he has tended to take players that are unpolished route runners because of their physical attributes and he has also been unsuccessful in signing talented wide receivers during free agency. Nonetheless, while you may swing and miss in drafting some of these freakishly athletic receivers, you do sometimes end up with players like Tyreek Hill (5th round).

To summarize this option, the Colts could roll the dice on some young veteran WR in hopes that a change in scenery will do him wonders. If Ballard chooses to follow a blueprint similar to this one, he is really going to be banking on the draft. If it were up to me, I’d target two out of the following 4, or other similar caliber players with the same picks.

- 59: Hakeem Butler (the tallest WR in the draft, don’t love his route running but sky high potential)

- 90: Riley Ridley (best route runner in the draft and taller than Deebo, has begun to gain more attention)

- 90: Terry McLaurin (After Ridley, probably my second favorite WR in terms of where his stock is and what I believe it should be, may do a series on him if you guys are interested)

- 123: Andy Isabella (low ceiling but a very high floor, nice value in the 4th round)

Hypothetically, let’s say we get Riley and Isabella, this would give us: TY, Cain, Fountain, Ridley, Isabella, Pascal/Rodgers, and a free agent. A solid WR room with a chance for growth.


Trade for Antonio Brown:

Let’s begin with his stat line in the last 5 years (age 25-30):

- 576 receptions (115.2 per season)

- 7,646 yards (1,529.2 per season)

- 13.3 YPC

- 59 TDs (11.8 per season)

Note: His most productive years were 2014 and 2015 and his production dropped slightly after. However, by “dropped off” I’m talking about going from 136 reception and 1,834 yards to 101 receptions (in 2017, his lowest after 2014) and 1,287 yards (2016, his lowest after 2014).

At this point in the off-season, it’s not about if AB is going to be traded, but to who. He has met with Rooney family to “clear the air” and they both agree that it’s time to move on. According to what I’m seeing, from NFL analysts and insiders, many predict that the Steelers won’t let AB go for less than a 2.

Lucky the for the Colts, we have two 2nd round picks, its just that one of them is basically a 1st rounder (34) and the other is late 2nd (59). Now, let’s get this clear, a player of Antonio Brown’s caliber, with no stigma, would never ever be traded for a 2nd rounder.

But AB has stigma, and he’s got a lot of it.


Pros of Brown:

- HOF WR

- Price is much lower than it should be for a player of his ability

- Produced an incredible 5-year stat line not achieved by anyone before (including Jerry Rice)

- Need for WR would go out the window

- Best WR duo in the league

- Luck would be propelled to the front of the MVP race

- Could push Colts from good to great

- There is a potential out after two seasons


Cons:

- Absolute diva mentality (Note: Most of his anger came from constantly being thrown under the bus by his QB, that wouldn’t happen with Luck)

- Goes public whenever he has a problem

- Might complain about touches since it would be a 1A and 1B situation

- Some question scheme fit in fast-paced, short pass offense

- Wants a guaranteed contract, according to Instagram video

- Could damage the Colts unselfish and team-first mentality

- Cap hit would be huge, but we can afford it

- Will be 33 at the end of his contract


Scenario:

The Colts are interested in getting Brown, so they reach out to the Steelers. However, a plethora of teams are interested (Seahawks, Niners, Packers, and Broncos, to list a few). The bidding soon gets out of hand and the Colts go from offering a third to offering the 34th overall pick; thus, trading themselves out of a chance to draft an edge rusher that might slide out of the first round (Jaylon Ferguson) or an injured Top-15 pick (Jeffrey Simmons). The Colts need for a WR goes away and they can focus on other necessities along the defensive line.

This is where the hypothetical gets slightly murky. The Colts could go on to have a phenomenal season where they secure a first-round bye, homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and a Lombardi (maybe). Or, Antonio begins to complain about his lack of touches and his under-utilization in the Colts offense, tears the team apart and the organization crashes and burns in Reich’s second season. The Colts opt out of Brown’s contract after two drama-filled seasons, costing them about $43 million dollars between the 2 seasons and the third season’s dead cap, plus the loss of a top 35 pick.

Let me just leave you with a quote from Ballard and tell you that I completely agree with him.

“And I just think you are what you bring into the building. Look: we have a great head coach. We’ve got a great staff. But you make their jobs a lot harder — and it’s a long season, and it shows up. Am I against adding a player that’s a difference maker on Sunday that I know is going to help us win games? No. I would absolutely add that player. He’s gotta fit into our culture. He has to fit in to doing things right. He has to fit in about being team-first. He has to be accountable to his teammates. They have to fit that criteria.”

The Colts risk too much in adding a player like Brown and the locker room may not be ready for the hit. I do think that talent is talent and eventually the Colts are going to have to add some players with red flags, but Brown could be too much of a bad influence over this young team and, in all honesty, the Colts are still one or two seasons away from SB contention.


My prediction for how this situation plays out?

The Steelers field offers and while some AFC teams offer more, the Kevin Colbert doesn’t want to send AB to the AFC and have to see him in the playoffs, so Antonio Brown goes to the Niners for the 36th overall pick.

I think I know what the answer is going to be but:

Poll

Should the Colts trade for Antonio Brown?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Yes
    (636 votes)
  • 69%
    No
    (1437 votes)
2073 votes total Vote Now