Antonio Brown trade: What a deal between the Panthers and Steelers might look like

Antonio Brown getting traded to the Panthers seems like one of those uninspired, over-speculative ideas you hear from bored fans in the middle of a long offseason. Upon closer examination, pairing the elite Steelers receiver with Cam Newton in Carolina actually makes a lot of sense on many levels.

Any deal for Brown is going to come at a high price. However, Pittsburgh and the Panthers could craft a trade that is mutually beneficial for both sides. Here’s an in depth break-down of why it makes sense and what a potential blockbuster deal sending No. 84 to Charlotte might look like.

A match made in heaven

The beginning of the end for the Panthers in 2018 came in Week 10, when they got destroyed by the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 52-21. More than just a catastrophic blow to Carolina’s self-esteem, the loss served as a microcosm of how Cam Newton’s NFL career has gone to this point.

Thanks to repeated breakdowns in pass protection, Newton got beaten up all night. The Steelers sacked him five times and hit him seven times en route to their easy victory, which began a seven-game losing streak for Carolina and shoulder troubles for their QB1 that eventually ended his season early. It was hardly the first time Newton has been pummeled by a good pass rush and it definitely won’t be the last.

In the middle of all those bumps and bruises for Newton, Antonio Brown was roasting Carolina’s cornerbacks for deep gains repeatedly. He caught all six of his targets for 96 yards and a touchdown.

All together, the performance painfully put Newton’s problems over the years into perspective.

It’s time to give Cam the proper supporting cast that he has never really had up to this point. Adding Brown to the mix with DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel could well give him the best wide receiver corps he’s ever had.

Brown’s sensational route-running and ball skills alone would make him a terrific fit for Carolina’s offense. For what it’s worth, Brown also seems like an ideal teammate for Newton.

What Norv Turner’s offense was missing most in 2018 was the deep ball. Part of that was due to Newton’s shoulder but even when he was healthy early in the year those long passes were not connecting at all. Brown is a tantalizing athlete in many ways, but his home run ability sets him apart from any receiver in Panthers history – even Steve Smith.

The two have taken to hanging out and training off the field, perhaps telegraphing their hopes of playing together in the future.

Making a bold move for Brown would represent a dramatic departure from the way the Panthers have done business in the past. It’s also exactly the kind of dynamic they need to make to capitalize on Newton’s abilities as he approaches the peak of his NFL career.

It’s time for Brown to move on

Critics of this trade scenario will no doubt point to Brown’s behavior as being a major negative. While it’s difficult to deny that Brown has been acting problematic to say the least, it’s also worth looking at the context of the events in Pittsburgh.

The exact details are only known to Brown, his teammates and coach Mike Tomlin, but it’s clear he has fallen out with Ben Roethlisberger. The beef between the two has been well-documented for nearly a year and a half now. As he has been known to do with other teammates, Roethlisberger was critical of Brown in a radio interview in early October 2017, which may have been the first true crack between them.

Big Ben’s comments can’t entirely excuse everything that Brown has said and done over the last few months to force his way out of Pittsburgh. That being said, it’s difficult to blame Brown for wanting to play with another quarterback. A change of scenery could be exactly what Brown needs, especially considering his obvious chemistry with Newton.

What the Steelers might get

As always, the devil resides in the details. The only way that the Panthers can sell the Steelers on dealing Brown is if they’re willing to part with a significant amount of draft capital in return.

One of the reasons that Pittsburgh has been able to stay competitive for so long – they haven’t had a losing season since 2003 – is their ability to build through the draft. Some teams (one of them plays in Denver) rely on signing big name free agents to stay afloat, but history says that’s an unsustainable strategy. Pittsburgh can and will insist on a first-rounder as well as getting multiple picks in any potential trade for No. 84.

Here’s how they might make out in this deal:

Panthers 2019 first-round pick: No. 16 overall Panthers 2019 third-round pick: No. 100 overall Panthers 2020 third-round pick: TBD

Surrendering the first-round pick will hurt Carolina’s chances of landing a game-changing left tackle or an edge-rushing menace, but it won’t make it impossible. For their part, the Steelers should be happy to load up on more top 100 picks for 2020.

What the Panthers might get

Obviously, the heart of the deal is getting a play-maker at wide receiver who makes reaching 1,500 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns a year look routine. Meanwhile, Carolina has gotten production like that at wide receiver literally just once since the start of the new century, when Steve Smith posted 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns in the 2005 season.

The Panthers roster is going through a broader youth movement though, and the trade would have to include getting a couple picks back.

Here’s how Carolina might make out in this deal:

Steelers WR Antonio Brown Steelers 2019 third-round pick: No. 83 overall Steelers 2020 seventh-round pick: TBD

In this scenario, general manager Marty Hurney finally secures a true No. 1 wideout and makes Cam Newton a very happy camper in the process.

The David Tepper factor

Realistically, it would be difficult for Carolina to pull off this trade. There are a host of other NFL teams who have better assets to offer Pittsburgh and also more cap room to accommodate Brown’s hefty contract. One key factor they have working in their favor is owner David Tepper, who has connections to the Steelers from when he was a minority owner there.

While being on speaking terms with the Pittsburgh front office is hardly a unique quality for a NFL owner, Tepper’s history with the organization might give him a leg up over other potential competitors who will be inquiring about Brown’s services.

More importantly, Tepper’s presence represents a shift in the Panthers’ philosophy. It’s hard to imagine a team led by Jerry Richardson taking a risk on an Antonio Brown trade, just as it was impossible to see him signing a player like Eric Reid. Now that Richardson is in the rear-view mirror, it’s possible we’re entering a more aggressive era of stewardship for the franchise.

Tepper has made it clear he’s not shy about making changes. Adding a bubble over the practice field will only get Carolina caught up to the 21st century, though. If he gambles on a major acquisition like Antonio Brown and it pays off, he could practically ensure a competitive Panthers offense for the rest of Newton’s career. That’s a risk worth taking.

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The NFL today sent clubs a list of 2019 compensatory draft picks. Here it is:

The rich could be getting richer. The Super Bowlchampion Patriots and runner-up Rams learned Friday they both landed a pair of extra third-round selections as the NFL released its list of compensatory picks for the 2019 NFL Draft.

A total of 32 picks were awarded to 15 teams, including four each for the Patriots, Cardinals and Redskins. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

New England’s third-round rewards are the result of losing offensive tackle Nate Solder (Giants) and cornerback Malcolm Butler (Titans) after the 2017 season, while the Rams were compensated for the defections of cornerback Trumaine Johnson (Jets) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Chiefs).

This year’s draft will be held on April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.

Coverage of 2019 NFL Scouting Combine Expands to More Platforms Than Ever

NFL Network Provides Live Coverage of On-Field Drills Friday, March 1 – Monday, March 4

For the First Time Ever, ABC to Broadcast Live Coverage of Quarterback & Wide Receiver Workouts Saturday, March 2 at 1:00 PM ET

Joe Thomas & Kyle Williams Join NFL Network’s Live Coverage of Combine Workouts

One-Hour ‘Combine Wrap-Up Shows’ on NFL.com Friday – Monday

The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine features the most coverage of any Combine ever, with NFL Network and NFL.com providing live coverage of on-field drills Friday, March 1 – Monday, March 4, and ABC broadcasting two hours of live coverage of quarterback and wide receiver drills on Saturday, March 2 at 1:00 PM ET.

For the 15th year, NFL Network will provide live coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine from Indianapolis, beginning Friday, March 1 with the running backs, offensive linemen and special teams, and continuing with the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends on Saturday, March 2, the defensive linemen and linebackers on Sunday, March 3, and the defensive backs on Monday, March 4. Coverage of workouts begins at 9:00 AM ET on Friday, Sunday and Monday, and 10:00 AM ET on Saturday on NFL Network and NFL.com

Host Rich Eisen anchors NFL Network’s coverage of the on-field workouts joined by NFL Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah in the booth at Lucas Oil Stadium. Additional coverage is provided by NFL Draft expert Charles Davis, Pro Football Hall of Famers Kurt Warner, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, as well as Steve Smith Sr., Maurice Jones-Drew, Willie McGinest, Shaun O’Hara and Chris Rose. NFL Network’s live coverage of on-field workouts also includes analysis from former All Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas (Friday) and recently retired Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills Kyle Williams (Sunday).

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and reporter Kimberly Jones provide the latest news and reports from Indianapolis.

In addition to coverage on NFL Network, the Combine will be televised on a broadcast network for the first time with ABC providing two hours of live coverage of the quarterback and wide receiver workouts on Saturday, March 2 at 1:00 PM ET. Trey Wingo hosts ABC’s NFL Live: NFL Scouting Combine, joined by Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, Louis Riddick, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.

The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine will be streamed digitally everywhere NFL Network is streamed, including through the NFL app and NFL.com. NFL digital platforms will stream one-hour Combine Today shows Friday – Monday recapping each day’s action from Indianapolis. Bucky Brooks, Maurice Jones-Drew, Lance Zierlein and Matt “Money” Smith anchor each day’s coverage from inside Lucas Oil Stadium, while Colleen Wolfe provides interviews with prospects following their workouts and Cynthia Frelund examines how each player will project in the NFL. Combine Today streams at 4:00 PM ET on Friday and Sunday, at 5:00 PM ET on Saturday, and at 2:00 PM ET on Monday.

Additional NFL Digital coverage of the Combine includes on-location episodes of the Move the Sticks, Around the NFL, NFL Fantasy Live and Rapsheet and Friends podcasts.

NFL Network’s Combine week coverage begins Wednesday, February 27 and Thursday, February 28 with four hours of live coverage of Combine press conferences each day starting at 1:00 PM ET. Full details on NFL Media’s extensive 2019 NFL Scouting Combine coverage will be available at a later date.

For the 15th year, NFL Network’s coverage of the Combine will conclude with Rich Eisen’s annual 40-yard dash in his trademark suit and cleats. Like previous years, ‘Run Rich Run’ will benefit the NFL PLAY 60 relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To submit videos running the 40 and to support the NFL’s collaboration along with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, please visit http://www.nfl.com/runrichrun.

Contacts:

Andrew Howard, NFL – Andrew.Howard@NFL.com

Bill Hofheimer, ESPN – Bill.Hofheimer@espn.com

Charissa Gilmore, ABC – Charissa.Gilmore@disney.com

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Steelers WR Antonio Brown continues to illustrate his damaged relationship with Ben Roethlisberger

Maybe someday the truth about what happened between Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will come to light. But for now, we can only speculate on how what appeared to be such a strong friendship has deteriorated so hard and so fast. Fans are somewhat divided on the blame in this breakup but when you see Brown making a point to go on Twitter and like tweets like these below it is disconcerting, to say the least.

We get Brown is doing everything he can to be sure the Steelers trade him this offseason. Liking such inflammatory tweets about a teammate he’s had such a special relationship is all theatrics but one of the biggest, but more fragile egos in the league.

But there is one fatal error in the argument in the tweets we must address. I don’t believe for a second the vast majority of fans who want Brown gone want it because of the domestic incident. Not at all. This is just an attempt to connect some dots that aren’t there to disparage Roethlisberger. Most fans are good with Pittsburgh trading Brown because he gave up. He quit on the team and the fans. Steelers’ fans have tolerated trouble players for a very long time. And had Brown shown up for the last game, they would continue to support him.

Broncos fans- how do you feel about Joe Flacco heading to Mile High? Discuss.

#Ravens #broncis #joeflaco #NFL #NFLUK

The Ravens agreed to trade quarterback Joe Flacco to the Broncos on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Baltimore will receive a mid-round pick in return, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport

Flacco spent the first 11 years of his career in Baltimore after being drafted out of Delaware in 2008. He led Baltimore to the playoffs six times and won Super Bowl XLVII over the 49ers. Flacco is the Ravens’ all-time leader in wins, touchdown passes and passing yards. He sports a 96–67 career record

The former No. 18 overall pick was officially benched for rookie Lamar Jackson in December. Flacco started nine games for Baltimore in 2018, going 4–5 while throwing for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Jackson led the Ravens to the playoffs with a 6–1 regular-season record before falling to the Chargers in the AFC playoffs. 

Denver signed former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum before the 2018 season. Keenum went 6–10 as Denver’s starter with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year. His contract will expire after the 2019 season. 

The Broncos finished No. 24 in scoring last season en route to a third-place finish in the AFC West. Head coach Vance Joseph was firedon Dec. 31 and replaced by former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

AAF officials show NFL referees how it’s done

The Alliance of American Football, or AAF, kicked off its inaugural season on Feb. 9 and immediately showed how they plan to take advantage of some blind spots in the NFL’s monopoly. Much of that involves changes to officiating; they don’t want to experience what the NFL brought on themselves during the botched NFC championship game, hosing the New Orleans Saints before Super Bowl LIII.

One way the AAF is avoiding that ugly situation is by adding a ninth member to officiating crews, termed the sky judge. As explained by AAF officiating consultant Mike Pereira, “If you get a helmet-to-helmet spear and it’s not called on the field, it can be picked up by the ninth official. He has the ability to do it in real time. . . . He can call down to the field and say, ‘Hey, spearing on No. 33 of Birmingham, 15-yard penalty, let’s go.’”

But when situations do call for use of instant replay, the AAF is broadcasting communications between replay officials to referees on the field. You can watch a sample of this innovation from CBS Sports, as replay official Jimmy Oldham goes through the process in an opening-night game between the San Diego Fleet and San Antonio Commandeers:

Oldham relays what he sees on the instant replay — in this case, that the receiver got just one foot in bounds before exiting the field of play, resulting in an incomplete pass — in a stunning bit of transparency from the AAF. The NFL should feel embarrassed that they do not allow this much access to their fans, or even anything close to it. Even if calls don’t go the way fans want, being able to view the entire process and at least understand the officials’ reasoning on game-changing plays would do much to repair the NFL’s image after a humiliating officiating error in this year’s NFC championship game.

For now, the AAF exists just in its infancy. Whether it has any staying power remains to be seen. But if its innovations can spur the NFL into meaningful action, the AAF deserves all the praise and attention from football fans it can garner. If nothing else, it’s great to have football season extended another month.

Would Giants trade up in 2019 NFL Draft for Dwayne Haskins?

The New York Giants are in need of a young quarterback to groom under veteran Eli Manning; one who can eventually take over the throne in the Big Apple and not act as a mere bridge to the next guy.

Many scouts, experts and analysts believe that man should be Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who has just a single year as a college starter under his belt.

Haskins certainly played well enough in 2018 to get people talking, but there are also some concerning weaknesses to his game. What that ultimately means for his stock in the 2019 NFL Draft remains to be seen, but perhaps those are issues he can hash out in time for the NFL Combine.

Assuming all goes well and Haskins performs above board in Indianapolis, he’s a very real possibility for the Giants come April. Of course, there are several other teams also in need of a quality quarterback who could either take Haskins ahead of the Giants or trade up in front of them.

With that in mind, might the Giants gamble and trade up themselves to snag Haskins? Jordan Raanan of ESPN thinks so, listing that exact scenario as a potential “bold move” for Big Blue this offseason.

New York Giants

The Giants trade up to get quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the draft.

Yes, they finally concede that the time has come to really find Eli Manning’s successor, and are willing to do whatever is necessary to land their target. In this case, it’s Haskins, the Ohio State signal-caller. The cost will be their first-round pick plus more draft capital, potentially a future first-round pick. GM Dave Gettleman watched in 2004 as Ernie Accorsi did whatever was necessary to get Manning. He does whatever is necessary to get the top QB in this draft.

The Giants do have an abundance of draft picks — 11 in total — but without a third-round pick, which was spent in the NFL Supplemental Draft for cornerback Sam Beal, it’s hard to image Dave Gettleman giving up a first-round pick, a second-round pick and potentially more for a one-year starter.

Crazier things have happened though, and as former Giants general manager Jerry Reese used to say, “never say never.”