The shiny new toy is sitting, tantalizingly, in the window.
It’s attainable. And, on the surface, it’s exactly what you need.
The Jets’ No. 1 priority this offseason is to build around quarterback Sam Darnold, the crown jewel of the organization. That means adding game-breaking talent at receiver.
So, what about Antonio Brown, the Steelers stud receiver who looks like he might be gettable via trade the way things are devolving for him in Pittsburgh?
Absolutely, positively no.
Yes, Brown has six consecutive 100-catch seasons, and the Jets’ top three receivers caught a combined 125 passes this season.
Yes, it’s easy to daydream about Brown helping turn the 17 touchdown passes Darnold threw in his rookie season into 27 or even 37 with his ability to open up opportunities down the field.
Yes, Brown is only 30 and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Yes, the Jets, with their $100 million-plus in cap space, can afford the $21 million cap hit in 2019.
Brown checks all the boxes in terms of need at receiver for Darnold and the Jets.
Except for the fact he’s a walking red flag — a potential toxic distraction to a team in desperate need of locker-room leadership and direction, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Remember when acquiring Santonio Holmes appeared to be a heist when the Jets “pried” him away from the Steelers for a “mere” fifth-round pick in 2010?
How’d that work out for the Jets?
Ask Rex Ryan.
Holmes and his selfish, locker-room-lawyer attitude was as responsible for Ryan’s eventual downfall as Jets head coach as any player on the team.
Holmes caught 103 passes and had 14 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Jets (2010 and 2011). Then he caught 43 passes and had two touchdowns in his final two seasons (2012 and 2013) and became such a problem inside the locker room that a number of his own teammates wanted to punch him out — including in one game in Miami, where he was kicked out of the huddle in the heat of a fourth-quarter comeback attempt.
Is Brown Holmes? No. He’s a far better player. Could he become the kind of problem Holmes became inside the Jets’ locker room? His track record would suggest so.
According to ESPN, Brown left the Steelers three times since August this past season, missing multiple meetings during the regular season, including in the final week, with the Steelers fighting for their playoff lives when he quit on them. He left the season finale at halftime and didn’t bother to show up with the rest of his teammates the day after the season.
How do you walk that back with your teammates?
Jets safety Jamal Adams, who has pure, good intentions as a young locker-room leader in his public push for management to acquire more talent, has been at the front of the line this week calling for the Jets to bring Brown to the team via a trade.
First, Adams tweeted his support for Brown: “Yo @AB84 NYC will appreciate you!! #JETS.”
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Then, in an interview on WFAN, he called Brown “a star” and added, “Obviously, certain people have their opinion about him, but one thing I do know: From watching and witnessing it, AB is going to come to play. I would definitely love to see him come here. Him and Sam I think would have a great connection. That would give Sam another big-time weapon.”
But if Brown came to the Jets and pulled the ridiculous, team-divisive stunts he’s been pulling in Pittsburgh, Adams, the most vocal leader on the team, would be the first player to be calling out the bad culture in the Jets’ locker room because of divas like Brown.
And Adams isn’t the player who would have to hear Brown’s rants about not getting the ball enough. Darnold would. How would that help a 21-year-old quarterback’s development?
Top receivers don’t grow on trees, but they’re not as difficult to find in the NFL as top pass rushers or quarterbacks. The Jets, if they even have the temptation to do so, should stay away from Brown. Let him be someone else’s problem.