New England Patriots

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers waits on the field before their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Big-time issues began brewing within the Pittsburgh Steelers as their disappointing 2018 season came to an end in Week 17. All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown didn’t play in the Steelers’ 16-13 loss in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, and it’s because of a behind-the-scenes chain of events that led to his benching. Now, Brown apparently wants out of Pittsburgh altogether.

According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Brown has requested a trade from the Steelers. It reportedly doesn’t rise to the level of a “demand” and La Canfora doesn’t find it likely that the Rooneys sign off on such a move anyway. But Brown has “issues” with both Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin, who are apparently closely aligned with each other.

Those personal problems led to a dispute with Roethlisberger that caused Brown to sit out practice for the rest of the week leading up to Sunday’s game, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brown reportedly snapped and threw a football in Roethlisberger’s direction during a Wednesday walkthrough, then chose to sit out the team’s remaining practices and meetings, including the Saturday night meeting before the game.

Despite all that, Brown apparently showed up to Heinz Field expecting to play against the Bengals. He left at halftime after it sank in that he wouldn’t be seeing the field.

Hard to believe that the Steelers’ high-powered offense is really about to implode like it seems at the moment. But there’s no excusing the way that Brown has acted over the past week, if the reports are accurate. They clearly have some real issues to work out this offseason if the trio of Brown, Tomlin, and Roethlisberger are all going to stick around and co-exist in 2019.

Brown trade rumors would be fun. If Amari Cooper was worth a first-round pick, what’s the best receiver in the league going to cost?

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.