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Where will Antonio Brown play in 2019? 49ers, Broncos among possibilities | NFL

Antonio Brown has removed “Steelers” from his Twitter bio and unfollowed the team on social media. Team owner Art Rooney II has said he will not release the receiver, but “all other options are on the table.”

So it appears Brown’s days in Pittsburgh are limited. We’re months away from finding out how the saga will play out, but recent reports have fueled speculation on where Brown will play in 2019.

Only a handful of options make sense. Here we break down each potential team for Brown; why each could land one of the best receivers in the NFL.

MORE: Breaking down Steelers’ options with Brown

(Salary cap numbers via Spotrac.)

Where will Antonio Brown play in 2019?

San Francisco 49ers

Brown has publicly indicated San Francisco is a place where he wants to play, and he apparently told Jerry Rice something similar: “He wants to come here really badly,” Rice said of Brown’s desire to play for the 49ers.

The Niners have $46.4 million in projected cap space for 2019, plenty to add Brown, and their current roster makeup suggests he would be a fit. San Francisco invested in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo last year, and Brown could pair nicely with George Kittle, who just set the NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos reportedly are one of the teams interested in trading for Brown. They will have a projected $37 million in salary cap space next season, again plenty to bring in Brown, but acquiring the receiver would limit Denver in other areas (such as getting a better quarterback).

Denver has Emmanuel Sanders on the roster, but the veteran tore his Achilles late in the season, and his 2019 salary is not guaranteed. The Broncos could release Sanders and free up $10.15 million in cap space. So their moving on from Sanders would be the likely scenario if they want to explore a trade for Brown.

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis in 2018 ranked seventh in yards per game (386.2) and fifth in points per game (27.1), so for the Colts, Brown would be a luxury. But they also have the most projected cap room available in 2019 ($122.4 million).

But unlike the situations with the 49ers and the Broncos, there have been no reports or social media activity linking Brown with the Colts. The only loose relation is Brown’s (former?) teammate Le’Veon Bell reportedly wanting to join the Colts, something the running back has hinted on social media, as well.

New York Jets

In the report about the Broncos’ interest in a Brown trade, NFL Network also mentions the Jets as a possibility. New York has the second-most projected cap space available ($98.1 million) for 2019, and according to Bet Online, the Jets are the odds-on favorites to land the receiver.

Also, like 49ers players, Jets players have been openly recruiting Brown.

There’s also the following from Peter King, who listed the Jets as one of four trade destinations:

An idea? Jets trade (Robby) Anderson and a second-round pick to the Steelers for Brown. Jets sign Le’Veon Bell. And the (Steelers East) Jets finally have the weapons to be a potent NFL offense for the next two or three years.

New York would be taking a risk in bringing in a wide receiver who appears to want out of his current situation because of a dispute with his QB. That might not be a good situation for a developing young QB like Sam Darnold.

Also, Brown has had some issues with the Pittsburgh media, so imagine the trouble he could have with the press in New York.

Arizona Cardinals

Brown to Arizona, and Patrick Peterson to Pittsburgh? The veteran cornerback reportedly asked Arizona to trade him back in October, and the Steelers could be a good fit for him. Likewise, Arizona could use a receiver to support Josh Rosen (or, potentially, Kyler Murray?) if Larry Fitzgerald retires. Even if Fitz returns, he won’t be there for much longer, and Brown would be a nice transition, talent-wise. Arizona also has the cap space (projected $56.5 million) to bring him in.

This could be a win-win trade for both sides.

Oakland Raiders

In addition to the Jets, King listed the Raiders as one of four potential trade spots for Brown. As King points out, Oakland has “four first-round picks in the next two drafts and a coach who won’t fear the distraction.” The team recently dealt away Amari Cooper and could use a new No. 1 wideout.

The Raiders have the fifth-most cap space (projected $73.4 million) available for 2019, and Gruden has praised Brown in the past. Below are the coach’s comments from December:

“They move him around everywhere. You don’t know where he’s going to be. He can run every route you dream up. I say that about other receivers, but he can run double moves, he can run by you, he can run crossing routes, he’s very good after the catch. What’s the greatest thing about this man, I’ve told all of our receivers, if you get a chance to watch him practice, you’ll see what unlocks the greatness in him. He’s the hardest working man, I think, in football. Hardest working player I’ve ever seen practice. I’ve seen Jerry Rice, I’ve seen a lot of good ones, but I put Antonio Brown at the top. If there are any young wideouts out there, I’d go watch him practice. You figure out yourself why he’s such a good player.”

That seems like a quote from a coach who would be willing to trade for Brown. And Oakland has the assets to do it.

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