Would Titans-Antonio Brown marriage work? Does a trade make sense? How likely is it?
In fact, they're among the top three teams most interested in the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, according to an ESPN report on Friday night. The Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have expressed significant interest in trading for Brown, according to the report.
But on Monday morning, NFL Network reported the Raiders, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are among the teams that have appeared the most interested in Brown. The report also said the Steelers have enough interest in Brown to deal him before March 17.
Still, the Titans should be in the mix for one of the most talented players in the sport. So it's worth taking a closer look ...
A closer look at the numbers
From 2013-18, Brown averaged 114 catches, 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns per season. Those are once-in-a-generation-type numbers and those of a future Hall of Famer.
And then there's this: Brown had six catches of 40 yards or more last season, the same number the Titans had as a team. For a Titans offense that has lacked explosiveness, the seven-time Pro Bowler is a dream acquisition.
A key date when it comes to a potential trade is March 17, when Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus. If Brown is dealt before March 17, his deal with his new team will be three years, $38.9 million over the next three seasons with a cap hit of $15.125 million in 2019, $11.3 million in 2020 and $12 million in 2021.
If he's traded after March 17, the overall figure for his new team falls to $36.425 million, with a cap hit of $12.625 million in 2019, $11.3 million in 2020 and $12 million in 2021.
For an elite talent, that's a very reasonable price tag.
Titans should be looking for a veteran receiver anyway
Corey Davis is 24. So is Taywan Taylor. So is Tajae Sharpe. All three are still developing, and still not nearly consistent enough when considering the Titans' goal this offseason should be to surround Marcus Mariota, who is entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract, with as much protection and as many weapons as possible.
"You've got to have a mixture of veteran guys and youth at really every position group," Titans general manager Jon Robinson said last week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. "And I'd say that position group (wide receiver) is one of our younger position groups. We'll kind of go through free agency and see how the market goes, and if there's a veteran out there that we think can help us, certainly not averse to adding one of those guys."
It's worth noting that Brown will be 31 by the start of the 2019 season, so a natural decline is looming a few years down the road.
Could the locker room handle Brown?
In Mike Vrabel's first season as Titans coach, the locker room was a strength. It remained steady after a big win against the Patriots. After a big loss to the Ravens. Through the home stretch of the schedule, when the Titans won four games and put themselves in position for a playoff berth that ultimately didn't pan out.
How would the addition of a potential distraction like Brown affect that?
"I think the one thing that is a clear message to our team that I try to tell them is that we’re going to treat you the same way you treat the team," Vrabel said last week at the combine. "And it’s an easy way to say that we treat everybody fairly, but we treat them differently. There’s a lot of things that you can put up with as a coach and a team, and there’s some things that you can’t. I think that it’s important that any time you bring in somebody from outside the organization, whether that it be in free agency or you trade for a player, you just have to make sure that you know and are comfortable with what you’re getting. That’s the tough part."
Vrabel seems like an ideal figure to handle such a scenario. Back in his playing days, he was a prominent leader for the New England Patriots in 2007, when they brought in star receiver Randy Moss in a similar type of situation. That turned out pretty well for the Pats.
Would Mariota and Brown work?
The Titans have been a run-heavy team, which could make things tricky. Brown needs a heavy dose of targets to stay happy – he's averaged 141.7 per season for his career and 171 over the past six seasons – which would require some adjusting on the Titans' part. Then again, Brown would represent the most purely talented receiver the franchise ever has had, as good a reason as any to throw a bit more.
And then there's their starkly contrasting personalities. Brown is loud, boisterous and commands the spotlight. Mariota is ... none of those things. Their chemistry would be something to monitor, but if Brown is getting his targets and his team is winning, that's plenty to keep him happy.
Are the Titans the best fit among the most interested teams?
That distinction belongs to the Oakland Raiders, who have a lot more going for them in the Brown sweepstakes.
For one, the Raiders have three first-round draft picks at their disposal (Nos. 4, 24 and 27), so in a bidding war, they have the upper hand. They also have more salary cap space ($72,915,680 to the Titans' $43,464,313, according to overthecap.com) if they want to renegotiate a contract with Brown.
Raiders quarterback David Carr and Brown seem to have a good rapport already after meshing as AFC teammates at the 2018 Pro Bowl. And Raiders coach Jon Gruden in December called Brown "the hardest working player I've ever seen." Also, the Raiders could use a poster boy for their move to Las Vegas in 2020.
Oakland is the only two mentioned in both the report by ESPN and the one by NFL Network as teams who are most interested in Brown.
What type of offer would it take to bring Brown to Nashville?
Considering the Steelers have no leverage here – Brown and the Steelers have reached an impasse and have agreed to part ways – it's a buyer's market.
It doesn't seem that the Steelers can expect a first-round pick for Brown straight up. The Titans might be willing to part with the 19th overall pick, though, if they get draft compensation back. Brown plus the Steelers' second- or third-round pick could make sense.
But again, the Raiders have more draft capital to play with and remain in the driver's seat for that reason.
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Reach Erik Bacharach at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.