Tim Benz: Build a Kevin Colbert statue if he gets a 1st-rounder for Antonio Brown | TribLIVE.com
Tim Benz, Columnist

Tim Benz: Build a Kevin Colbert statue if he gets a 1st-rounder for Antonio Brown

Tim Benz
Antonio Brown and Kevin Colbert

If Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert really ends up with a first-round draft choice for disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown, that will make me sad.

I’ve always liked Colbert. So I’d hate to see him wind up in prison on a grand-larceny charge.

That’s what would be warranted if Colbert can steal another club’s first-round pick for “Mr. Big Chest.” If he can pawn off the Steelers’ biggest problem and get a first-rounder in return, the organization should tear down the Art Rooney Sr. statue. Then, they should rebuild it. But this time it should be Colbert with the smile on his face, smoking a cigar, while “The Chief” stands by his side offering to light another one for him.

And then, in my mind’s eye, they’ll drop a few ashes on an old No. 84 Brown jersey.

If you believe NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport — even though Ben Roethlisberger told us we should never do that — the Steelers are still holding out hope a first-rounder can come their way for A.B.

Augmenting that report is this tweet from Adam Schefter.

If that is accurate, the Steelers have a first-round offer they are willing to take and are just trying to sucker something better from someone else. Or it’s possible that the best offer on the table is something lower than a first-round pick and the club is trying to prime the pump before free agency starts on March 13 — and before Brown’s $2.5 million roster bonus is due on March 18.

I’ve long been of the opinion that Steelers fans should be happy if the Steelers could walk away with a mid-to-late second-round pick.

Maybe I was too simplistic for saying this given the circumstances and the contractual onus of Brown’s situation, but if Martavis Bryant could yield a third-round pick from the Raiders, then Brown should be able to garner at least a second-rounder.

Even though he’s older. And more expensive. And maybe even more emotionally volatile.

But a first-rounder? Really? That’s still possible?

I don’t question that from the standpoint of “worth.” Even at 30 years of age and having a career low in catch percentage last season, Brown also is coming off a career-high 15 touchdowns. His 104 receptions were right on par with the previous two seasons of 101 and 106. And many of his other numbers were as good as they were two years ago.

So of course, talent-wise, Brown is worthy of first-round compensation. However, he’s a guy that the Steelers can’t keep because of the relationships he torched with Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin. Plus, he doesn’t want to stay. He may not report to the team if the Steelers retain him. Hence, they could have $22.1 million counting against the cap that can’t be used elsewhere. That’s even more exposure than they had when they put a franchise tag of $14.54 million on Le’Veon Bell a year ago.

In other words, the Steelers aren’t exactly dealing from a position of strength here. Yes, Brown is a great asset to offer. That is until you realize the Steelers can’t keep him. Furthermore, his erratic behavior has made him a riskier investment to boot.

So if Colbert can haul first-round return given all of that, God bless him.

Maybe that’s why — as I’ve been saying for weeks — the Raiders seem like such a plausible destination. They have three first-round picks. Maybe if their last one — the 27th in the first round — is risked on a proven talent such as Brown, it would feel like a calculated gamble to Oakland management.

That would be especially understandable since that pick originally came from Dallas in the Amari Cooper trade last year.

In essence, Oakland could justify that theoretical trade by saying they ended up trading Amari Cooper for Antonio Brown.

I’d make that deal based on how Cooper had failed to blossom in Silver and Black.

Just between you and me, though, if Oakland gave up pick No. 35 in the second round, I’d be satisfied with that, too.

In that case, Colbert wouldn’t get the statue.

Maybe just a mannequin to replace Franco Harris at the airport.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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