The Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers are two sides of the same coin that appear to be moving in different directions but one thing they have in common at the moment is outspoken wide receivers who have been given free rein to express themselves.
With the Steelers trade saga involving wide receiver Antonio Brown hitting week one million and one, the situation has reached peak drama — the Seahawks know a little something about peak drama. With a deal nearly done — depending on who you believe — Brown was seemingly on his way to the Buffalo Bills before talks broke down. Some have stated Brown killed the trade by not wanting to go to Buffalo; others have reported no trade was ever close and talks between the Steelers and Bills broke down days ago.
Whatever the situation, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is tired of it and he brought a simple message where Antonio Brown was concerned on Friday.
“Free AB!” Baldwin tweeted with a fist emoji.
Phrasing the situation as Brown needing to be set free is an interesting choice considering the circus that surrounds all parties at the moment in Pittsburgh. But consider a player’s perspective. From all accounts, this situation began when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Brown’s relationship became untenable due to friction over Roethlisberger’s needling. The organization clearly chose their elder franchise quarterback over a receiver who coincidentally is no spring chicken himself.
And then at the last second, they tried to ship him off to Buffalo with better options on the table.
Of course, Brown would do everything in his power not to go to a team/situation he doesn’t want and why would Baldwin not see it was Browns right to do so?
The question for the Steelers now will be can they get the value back following this latest calamity? What will be the price of a possible last hour decision to move Brown to Buffalo gone awry especially with the perception — right or wrong — that Brown nixed the deal?
For right now, one thing is certain. Despite Baldwin’s pleas for Brown’s emancipation from the Steelers, the Seahawks aren’t interested. According to CBS Sports Jason LaCanfora, the Seahawks kicked the tires around internally on acquiring Brown early in the process but decided against getting into the scrum. Even if the price is lowered, it’s still hard to see them getting into the mix due to having only four draft picks. Their second, sixth and seventh-round draft picks are all missing. Besides, the Seahawks have Baldwin and wide receiver Tyler Lockett who fill the same role as Brown. The money to pay Brown would likely be better spent elsewhere unless they plan to release or trade Baldwin.
For now, the Seahawks and Baldwin sit from afar watching a disaster movie play out in a similar fashion to their own retooling from 2018. Except for all the criticism the Seahawks received, their problems always stayed in-house until the players in question left or were clearly leaving. So while the Seahawks struggled to trade Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and failed to do so, both soldiered through final seasons that only ended because of injury not because of a public catastrophe like Brown. In fact, the Seahawks even successfully reintegrated Thomas back into their system after a lengthy, messy holdout.
Certainly, the Seahawks have not been perfect and it would be only the greatest of stretches to suggest they’ve been without drama. Earl Thomas’ middle finger says hello. But what they’ve been without unequivocally is a player so fed up with his situation/coaching staff/teammate he would sit out the final game of the regular season not to mention have a player who sat out the whole season. Le’Veon Bell waves vigorously at the camera
So while the Seahawks and Steelers both let their players express themselves like Baldwin’s doing now or Brown has done whenever he likes; the Seahawks have cultivated an atmosphere where they can come back together if any bickering caused by that self-expression and/or strain of business relations occurs.
Perhaps, that’s the freedom Baldwin wants Brown to find. Unfortunately, there’s only one place to find it and they’re not open for business when it comes to an Antonio Brown trade. Or maybe he just wants him to be able to leave Pittsburgh.
Some things are metaphorical and some things are not and sometimes, it’s both.