The Antonio Brown trade talk is picking up steam.

The Steelers are expected to listen to offers for disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown ahead of the opening of free agency, and you might be able to expect a deal sooner than later.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Saturday that Brown is likely to be traded before March. Though the $21 million cap hit would be steep, ESPN reported the Steelers are expected to restructure Ben Roethlisberger’s deal (and figure not to be splurging on Le’Veon Bell).

The report comes just days after head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that a time could be near when the All-Pro wideout is more of a distraction than he’s worth in Pittsburgh.

With three years left on his contract, Brown is owed $22 million for 2019. Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year.

Rival GMs have suggested the Steelers would look for a first-round pick or multiple high picks in return, according to NFL Network.

After walking out of Wednesday’s practice ahead of the 2018 regular-season finale, Brown was inactive — with knee discomfort — against the Bengals on Sunday. Tomlin did not deny that the perception could be reality, that Brown “quit” on the Steelers when the team needed a win (and Ravens loss) to continue their season.

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NFL Network reported teammates doubted Brown’s knee injury claims. Tomlin, who admitted there was no MRI or X-ray on the knee, said he had no reason to doubt the wide receiver was hurt.

But the discord has since escalated and Brown has yet to meet with team officials since the season ended.

“We’re talking about our darkest hour,” Tomlin said. “The guy not communicating is a very real element of discussion.”

–With Field Level Media

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