Trade suitors for Antonio Brown are lining up their draft picks and cash to potentially land the standout Pittsburgh Steeler, who is one of the best wide receivers on the football field right now ... when he shows up.
And while there was a “report” that the Denver Broncos may be among those suitors (which was really just rival GMs speculating the Broncos may be interested), there’s a big question mark about whether the Broncos could a) afford him and b) attract him.
For fans there may also be a question mark for “do we want him?” But according to the MHR poll two days ago, more of Broncos Country than not would like to see it.
The topic of Antonio Brown was a big one on Orange and Blue Radio Monday as Ryan Edwards, Andrew Mason and Steve Atwater discussed whether it was feasible and desirable.
Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic pointed out that the absence of Demaryius Thomas following his midseason trade from the Broncos definitely left a hole in the offense, and now with Emmanuel Sanders coming back from an Achilles injury, having a top wideout like Brown is certainly attractive for an offense. But would he be worth giving up draft picks when the Broncos are clearly in a position of needing to build the team in a lot of areas?
The 1st and 10 crew also asked Bob Holtzman, former ESPN reporter now working with Broncos TV, his impression of Brown and the potential to land in Denver.
Having covered Brown extensively while working for ESPN, Holtzman noted that his impression of Brown then was always as a “soft-spoken, hard-working guy” who may just need a change of scenery.
Although Brown’s ego has clearly made him less soft-spoken and more like the “diva” we expect from wide receivers, Holtzman believes a locker room like the Broncos - with a leader like Von Miller - could be a good place for Brown.
Mainly, Holtzman believes if there’s an opportunity to get Brown, the Broncos should go for it.
“No doubt I’d consider him. Since in the league, no one has more catches or more yards...AB is really, really good. He’s on Hall-of-Fame trajectory already at age 30,” Holtzman pointed out. “I just think If you can bring in somebody as uber-talented as AB, you’ve gotta try.”
But Atwater noted the elephant in the room and made the most subtle but awesome dig at our quarterback - Are the Broncos and their current QB really the place for Brown?
“Some of the balls thrown to AB, he is covered and covered well, and he makes amazing catches,” Atwater said, adding that often times last season the Broncos had guys open or only slightly covered and Case Keenum didn’t throw them the pass. “I wonder, does AB realize the importance of having a quarterback like a Ben Roethlisberger who goes into the games saying, ‘I’m throwing whether you’re covered or not.’
“It’s not just AB running routes and making great catches. It’s also Ben Roethlisberger making the commitment to throw the ball regardless of the situation,” Atwater added. “With a quarterback who is not as confident, and [Brown] ends up next season with 60-70 catches, I can’t imagine the kind of blow up that he’s gonna have.”
Which makes you think that if the Broncos really are serious about considering a trade for Brown - and there’s no clear indication that that is the case - the Broncos must also be thinking about a different quarterback and John Elway has found something in those trees he’s shaking.
The entire interview with Holtzman is a good one. As a reporter who covered Vic Fangio at the Niners and Bears, he believes this is a really good fit for the Broncos:
“I like it. When I was with ESPN I used to cover the Packers extensively and he used to drive Aaron Rodgers nuts - whether it was working for the 49ers or more recently the Bears. His schemes just confuse quarterbacks,” Holtzman said, adding that that will be an important trait for AFC West teams facing Patrick Mahomes twice a year. “The way Mahomes played, you have to assume for the next eight, 10, 12 years this division is going through Kansas City, and you have to find a way to slow that guy down. That’s part of why I like the Fangio hire. He has a proven track record of confusing and slowing down quarterbacks.”