Tim Benz: Did the Patriots create a trade destination for Antonio Brown? | TribLIVE.com
Tim Benz, Columnist

Tim Benz: Did the Patriots create a trade destination for Antonio Brown?

Tim Benz
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown celebrates a touchdown in the Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans.

Buy into this one if you want. I’m all for taking a leap.

If you don’t, though, I don’t blame you. Let me lay it out, and you make up your own mind.

If one national report is right, the New England Patriots — of all teams — may have actually helped the Pittsburgh Steelers find a trade partner if they end up dealing Antonio Brown.

As we all know, ever since Brown made his desire to leave Pittsburgh clear, he has been openly flirting with members of the San Francisco 49ers online. Brown seems drawn to San Francisco because of the connection to Jerry Rice and perhaps their ability to craft a contract extension.

From a Niners’ point of view, they could undoubtedly use a big-time wide receiver as a target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Makes sense.

So much sense that San Francisco reportedly had an extreme interest in New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. last year, too. A swap never materialized, though.

Apparently, a deal also may have been in the works between the Giants and the Patriots for OBJ. But, if you believe Chris Simms of ProFootballTalk, the very fact that the omnipotent Patriots had such a strong desire to nab Beckham Jr. may have scared the Giants into keeping him on their roster.

Basically, Simms is saying that because the mighty, infallible Patriots saw enough good in Beckham to try to acquire him, the Giants figured, “Well, geez, if those guys want him, he must be worth the headache. So we better keep him.”

I get it. But, c’mon. That’s a little much. Do organizations honestly think that way? Do teams get spooked into keeping guys on the payroll if other teams want them? Even if the Pats are the other team involved?

“We can’t fix OBJ’s attitude. But if he goes to New England, it will get fixed. So we have to keep him here … and continue to not fix him.”

Yeah. Seems weird when you put it in those terms, right?

Furthermore, the Patriots tried to pull that same trick with Cleveland’s troubled receiver Josh Gordon, but it backfired. So, while New England has a Midas touch, it’s not foolproof. Plus, Simms didn’t rule out New York having a change of heart and dealing the kicking-net loving wideout anyway.

But let’s say Simms was right. And that because of New England’s interest in Beckham, the Giants have decided to keep him. Then that means the Niners may not have the option of choosing Beckham over Brown on the trade market, even though PFT is still reporting that the Niners may try to pry Beckham free anyway.

If that is indeed the game plan of San Francisco general manager John Lynch, and he fails, Brown could be a fallback option. Then the Steelers may have a trading partner willing to give up worthy return for their troubled diva after all.

All thanks to the Steelers’ good friends, the New England Patriots.

Yeah. I’m not buying it either. At least I’m not willing to say it that way.

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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