Things aren’t going super well in Pittsburgh.
After winning six games in a row in the middle of the season, the Steelers faded down the stretch to miss the playoffs. Of course, the Steelers have much bigger issues than spending their January on the couch, as star wide receiver Antonio Brown missed Pittsburgh’s Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and now appears to be at odds with both quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin.
Brown reportedly missed the win over the Bengals after electing to sit out practice following an altercation with Roethlisberger. The 30-year-old receiver has been sending cryptic social-media messages ever since, suggesting he might soon or already has asked for a trade.
So, why is Brown so angry with the Steelers? ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tried to explain the ins and outs of the Brown saga in a piece published Wednesday and noted the Pro Bowl receiver reportedly was trying to “send a message” by sitting out in Week 17.
“Brown was trying to prove a point that the team would struggle without him: If JuJu Smith-Schuster can win the team MVP and get significant targets, see what happens when I’m not there?” Fowler writes, citing a team source.
Fowler also notes Brown was upset with Roethlisberger after the veteran quarterback criticized his route running after a loss to the Denver Broncos, and that “the emergence of Smith-Schuster has complicated Brown’s future.”
Brown and Smith-Schuster have combined to form the best receiving tandem in the NFL, but the second-year receiver’s rise appears to have ruffled some of Brown’s feathers.
It doesn’t appear likely the Steelers would trade Brown even if he has asked, but if the Central Michigan product does become available there will be no shortage of teams giving Pittsburgh a call. And one look at Brown’s Instagram might give you a clue as to which team he hopes to be suiting up for next season.
Thumbnail photo via Phillip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports images