Freedman: Antonio Brown Won’t Retire This Offseason

Freedman: Antonio Brown Won’t Retire This Offseason article feature image

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown

  • Wide receiver Antonio Brown has requested a trade, but the Steelers have had difficulties so far in trading him.
  • Matthew Freedman breaks down the odds for whether Brown will retire before the 2019 season.

On Thursday, Mar. 7, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Steelers planned to trade wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Bills after months of speculation regarding his future.

But Brown reportedly killed the trade by saying he would retire instead of report to the Bills if he were sent to Buffalo.

The Steelers then told all teams to make their best offers by Friday, Mar. 8, but that date has come and gone, and Brown is still under contract with the franchise that drafted him in 2010.

It’s not a surprise that the trade market for Brown doesn’t seem to be robust: He’s an aging, expensive, increasingly high-maintenance receiver, and his play fell off last year. He could be the missing piece on a Super Bowl contender — but he could also be a locker room-destroying malcontent.

Given the facts, Brown might be faced with three unpleasant options for the 2019 season:

  • Accept a trade to an undesirable team.
  • Play for the Steelers.
  • Retire.

Here’s Brown’s retirement prop as well as my analysis.

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Will Antonio Brown Retire Before the 2019 NFL Regular Season?

  • Yes: +750
  • No: -2000

It’s not uncommon for all-time great NFL players to retire while they are still productive.

Running back Jim Brown retired before his age-30 season. Running back Barry Sanders and wide receiver Calvin Johnson both retired before turning 31.

All three players retired in part because they were displeased with their teams.

And last year, running back Le’Veon Bell was so frustrated by the Steelers and his contract situation that he decided to sit out the entire season.

So the idea of a star player opting not to play instead of playing for the Steelers is not unthinkable.

But I strongly doubt that Brown will retire before the regular season.

The odds are still decent that the Steelers will be able to trade Brown to a team he’s willing to play for.

And if they can’t, I think the odds are actually decent that Brown and the Steelers would be able to reconcile; he has been a great player for them for the past half decade.

But what if the Steelers can’t trade him or convince him to play for them?

He could pull a Le’Veon and sit out the 2019 season with the intention of playing again in 2020.

But even if Brown refuses to play in 2019, that doesn’t mean that he’ll actually retire.

Here’s my subjective assessment: Brown likes football too much to retire. Every day, he’s working out, training and hanging out with other football players. He’s preparing to play this year. He likes the game, and he likes being surrounded by other players who value him.

He can’t get that kind of respect outside of the NFL.

Brown likes the spotlight, and he’s maybe the most diva-esque wide receiver the league has ever had.

But once he retires, the world will move on from him, and deep down he knows it.

Look at it this way: By reputation, Brown is the best wide receiver in the NFL. And yet, this offseason he finished last place in “The Masked Singer,” competing against a cohort of B-list celebrities he otherwise wouldn’t want to be associated with.

Brown’s not ready for the world to be done with him.

At -2000 odds, there’s a 95.2% implied probability that he won’t retire, but I think the true odds are closer to 98%.

I’m not going to put a lot of action on this prop, because there’s a lot of juice to lay, and it won’t pay out till September, but I’d still bet it down to -2500.

THE PICK: No -2000 (up to -2500)

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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