Tim Benz: Ties with owner, Cam Newton could make Antonio Brown a fit with Panthers | TribLIVE.com
Tim Benz, Columnist

Tim Benz: Ties with owner, Cam Newton could make Antonio Brown a fit with Panthers

Tim Benz
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throws a pass during the first half against the Steelers on Nov. 8, 2018, at Heinz Field.

Perhaps those fretting about an underwhelming trade market for Antonio Brown have worried prematurely.

In recent days, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said he has heard from at least three teams who have expressed an interest in Brown.

Both NFL.com and Sports Illustrated advanced the Raiders as a good fit because of the draft-pick collateral (three in the first round) they could maneuver in exchange. On the heels of that story, coach Jon Gruden said the Raiders may put those picks in play on the trade market.

Now, there’s this.

Author Tim Weaver of PanthersWire.com crafted a story outlining how a deal between the Panthers and Steelers could be constructed to get Antonio Brown to Charlotte.

Yes, it involves a 2019 first-round draft pick.

First off, let’s look at why the Panthers might want Brown, his contract and his insanit … uh, unique personality.

• There’s the Cam Newton factor. He’s a former MVP quarterback who is suffering from a dearth of wide-receiver weapons.

Brown has been renowned for his ability to improvise with Ben Roethlisberger over the years, as Big Ben has used his size and pocket mobility to shed and elude would-be tacklers. Brown’s skills would come in handy with Newton, too.

Plus, with his hampered throwing shoulder and shaky offensive line, Newton could use a wideout who can get open quickly and do damage with yards after the catch on short, quick passes like Brown can.

Perhaps most importantly, Newton and Brown like each other. They work out together in the offseason. So, even though Brown and Roethlisberger clashed, that issue may not come to light in Charlotte.

• There’s the ownership factor. Having watched Brown as a minority-owner of the Steelers before purchasing Carolina last year, Pittsburgh native David Tepper has seen the best of Brown.

Of course, that means Tepper also knows Brown and his volatile eccentricities.

Whether Tepper’s familiarity with Brown — and the Steelers organization — works as a positive or a negative is an interesting point to examine. Who knows? Maybe he was one of those minority owners who allegedly wasn’t happy with the direction of the team at the end of 2017. And maybe Brown’s personality was part of that.

But if it is a positive, it could be a huge one. If Tepper is enamored with Brown, he not only may be willing to take the risk of acquiring him, but Tepper also may give up more to get him if he thinks a workable contract extension could happen.

• Then there’s practicality. If the Steelers send Brown to the Panthers, they won’t have to play against him until 2022.

As far as what the Steelers would get back, here’s what Weaver suggests the Panthers offer:

• 2019 first-round pick: No. 16 overall

• 2019 third-round pick: No. 100 overall

• 2020 third-round pick: TBD

In exchange, Weaver says Carolina should expect in return:

• Brown

• 2019 third-round pick: No. 83 overall

• 2020 seventh-round pick: TBD

I know what you are thinking. Do the Steelers get to keep the gun and ski mask they use to make that robbery?

As I mentioned earlier, though, maybe we have a distorted sense of reality when it comes to the trade market for Brown. Perhaps because, in Pittsburgh, we so frequently have been told that nobody would want Brown that we started to believe it.

For so many weeks, the narrative has been that Brown is ruining his trade value. If you hear that long enough, you feel foolish hoping the Steelers can do better.

But between this speculation from Carolina, the scuttlebutt surrounding Oakland and the spin from Colbert, perhaps there’s reason for optimism.

I’ve long maintained that if Martavis Bryant could yield a third-round pick, Brown should at least be able to return a second.

Now I’m allowing myself to think it could be more.

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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