4:50 AM ET
PHOENIX — The Pittsburgh Steelers had obvious reasons to trade wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders. His presence in Pittsburgh became untenable after he skipped work and disparaged the organization.
Brown wanted a new contract the Steelers were never going to give him. And keeping an All-Pro malcontent on the roster risked stunting the growth of young players such as wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
But some NFL decision-makers are concerned about the potential ramifications of the puzzling end to the Brown saga.
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Multiple high-ranking sources at the NFL owners meetings told ESPN that Brown forcing his way out of a contract with three years left might set a precedent that players can do what they want. One source went as far as to say that Brown essentially treating himself like a free agent, then getting a new deal with Oakland via trade, is “dangerous” for teams expecting players to honor contracts.