Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers have shown mutual interest in a breakup after a tumultuous season ended outside the playoffs and with Brown benched in the season finale for reportedly skipping practice.
Now Brown is leaving less-than-subtle hints about his eyes for another franchise.
On Sunday, Brown posted an Instagram image of him video chatting with San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice, a receiver he has openly idolized and drawn comparisons to.
Rice offers to mentor Brown in San Francisco
On Monday, Rice spoke with the Bay Area’s 95.7 The Game about his conversation with Brown and confirmed what was implied from Brown’s Instagram story. Brown wants to be a 49er, according to Rice.
“He wants to come here really bad,” Rice said. ” … He’s talking about running the hill with me — doing all that and just working out and just picking my brain. I don’t know if it’s going to happen because it’s going to be up to (head coach) Kyle Shanahan and also (general manager) John Lynch, but I’m all for it if they want him to come on board.”
Messages keep trickling from Brown
This coordinated messaging does not appear to be a coincidence.
And now Rice is delivering the message that Brown wants to be in San Francisco to the public, an announcement that appears to have been made with Brown’s blessing.
Brown is still under Steelers control
Brown is under contract in Pittsburgh through 2021 per a five-year, $72.7 million extension he signed prior to the 2017 season. Where he wants to end up is moot. It’s up to Pittsburgh.
But the Steelers appear ready to move on from Brown with owner Art Rooney telling reporters it’s “hard to envision” him being on the team in 2019, even with the $21.1 million cap hit the team would take through trading him.
It would obviously require the Steelers ultimately deciding that trading Brown is the right move and the 49ers offering the most attractive trade package to get him to San Francisco.
Rice, for one, hopes that it happens.
“And I’m looking forward — I would be looking forward to just passing some of that knowledge on to him and being around this guy because I know he’s a great individual,” Rice said.
“If it was left up to me, he’d be here in a heartbeat.”
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