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)

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)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Antonio Brown is still severely unlikely to be a Patriot next season. But new reports indicate that he’s headed somewhere in the next three days.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted on Wednesday morning that teams who spoke to the Steelers about Brown are told that a deal is expected to be in place by Friday. Just 17 minutes earlier, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Jets and Cardinals are out of the sweepstakes – but three new teams recently jumped into the fray.

You might snicker at the mere thought of the Jets making any sort of move. But ultimately, it’s good news for the Patriots that Brown going to the AFC East is less likely. Especially if Sam Darnold takes a step forward at quarterback for the Jets, having him throwing to one of the most dynamic receivers of his generation would only make life harder for New England.

Meanwhile, the Raiders and 49ers have long popped up in Brown trade rumors. It’s a bit of a mystery as to which teams are most strongly contending for Brown’s services. The Bills could use talent at receiver, so Brown coming to the AFC East shouldn’t be completely ruled out yet.

It’s no fun for New Englanders to completely rule out the Patriots. But Brown is due salaries of $12.6 million, $11.3 million, and $12.5 million over the next three seasons, and the Patriots would likely need him to restructure in order to save money against the cap (his cap hit for 2019 alone is $22.1 million). Not to mention, the price tag for him probably starts with a first-round pick and would likely require more.

Either way, get ready for the Brown trade to drop at some point on Friday.

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.