The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to consider trade offers for wide receiver Antonio Brown prior to the start of free agency, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
While Pittsburgh is not actively looking to trade Brown, the team has also not ruled it out given that they receive "adequate compensation" in return, per Rapoport.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Wednesday that he had not spoken to Brown since the team's final regular season game against the Bengals, which the star receiver did not play in for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers (9–6–1) beat Cincinnati without Brown, but was eliminated from playoff contention when the Ravens defeated the Browns.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazettereported that his absence was due to a dispute with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last week, but the quarterback downplayed the incident. Tomlin said Brown didn't play because of a "lack of communication" between the sides leading up to the game.
"When we're talking about the darkest hour, we're talking about playing to win a game and needing other dominoes to fall for us to be in the tournament and the guy not communicating–that is a real element of discussion, certainly," Tomlin said.
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer added that some in the Steelers organization believe that JuJu Smith-Schuster being voted as the Steelers' team MVP was what may have caused Brown's blowout in practice last week.
Whatever the reasoning, the team sat Brown last Sunday as a result. Brown was reportedly not happy with that decision, but Tomlin denied recent reports that the seven-time Pro Bowler has requested to be traded.
Brown finished the season with 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns for a league high and team record.
If the Steelers do trade Brown, they would save $1 million in salary cap space, per Rapoport, and create $15 million in cash savings. A deal would have to happen before the third day of the league year, when Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.