This is not a good day to be Steelers GM Kevin Colbert. In fact, it hasn’t been much of a year to be Kevin Colbert. And if you wanted to go back to find the last time it’s been a good time it’s been good to be Kevin Colbert, that would be when? December of 2017, maybe?
You were 11-2. You had the inside track on homefield throughout the playoffs. Sure, your coach who is somehow inexplicably unfireable was looking forward to that Week 15 game against New England about three weeks early and it nearly cost you losses against Green Bay, Cincy and Baltimore. But you squeaked them all out. Then a reversed call on a disputed touchdown gave your team the ball on the Patriots 1:
But your team wasn’t ready. Didn’t have any plays lined up. Ben Roethlisberger throws an end zone pick. You lose homefield. And ever since then, life as the guy in charge of the Steelers has been a ceaseless, spiraling swirl around the bottom of the ceramic bowl.
Antonio Brown Facebook Lives Mike Tomlin in the locker room calling the Patriots “assholes” while telling everyone to watch their social media. Le’Veon Bell sits out the year. Brown and Roethlisberger spend the season verbally bitch slapping each other in public. Brown skips practices and Saturday walk-throughs. Then said his knee was bothering him. Then turns up on the goofiest reality show of all time:
And just when you prepare yourself to move on from the best and yet most typically mercurial and unreliable wideout in the game, he posts that Tweet. And in doing so, flies a bomb-laden Kamikaze plane into the navy ship of his own value on the trade market.
I know the reaction at a moment like this is to say that all you need is two teams bidding against each other to drive up the return on a guy. But the NFL doesn’t work like that. Call it collusion and you’ll probably be right. But the fact is, guys who are damaged goods like this don’t get maximum trade value in return. Not ever. Consider this, from the Pittsburgh Gazette:
When I asked one longtime NFL personnel man last week what he would he would give the Steelers for Brown if he were in position to trade for him (he isn’t), he said maybe a sixth-round draft pick.
OK, he replied, maybe a conditional fifth or fourth depending on how he performs and maybe if the team makes the playoffs.
And that was before he announced he was leaving the team he’s under contract to. The nice men who paid him $17 million a year through 2021. At similar stages of their careers, Hall of Famers like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss weren’t worth 1st rounders. So any GM offering anything close to the value the Steelers thought they’d get for him is bidding against himself and deserves to be fired on the spot.
Just because I can’t help but look at this through the prism of the Patriots? Don’t. Let’s end that discussion right now. Right this minute. Don’t ask me about Brown coming here. I respect the talent but Do. Not. Want. Not for that kind of cap hit. Not for minimum wage. Cite all the troubled, mercurial nutjobs with sketchy reputations they’ve brought in here and got something out of, and I’ll remind you that the key to all of them, from Brian Cox in 2001 to Josh Gordon this year, was that every single one of them was high upside/zero risk. Brown is one of those things. Let him go somewhere else to blow their cap structure all to hell while undermining the coaches and singing Bobby Brown songs in a furry costume. I’ll stick with Julian Edelman, thanks.