Packers don’t need Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs up field after a catch in the first half during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field on November 26, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs up field after a catch in the first half during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field on November 26, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Why the Green Bay Packers don’t need Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell.

Don’t be fooled.

Amidst all of the articles and lists describing teams and schemes that could use the prodigious talents of wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, off a hiatus, there are spotty rumblings of the Green Bay Packers having an agenda to acquire one of them. Green Bay doesn’t need either of them.

First, before this is taken as a hit piece, it would be a foolish task for any sports writer to undermine how valuable both Brown and Bell are as players. Both of them, two pieces of the “Killer B’s” as they were affectionately called in Pittsburgh, were two key pieces of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success over the past four seasons.

However, success is commonly a product of environment, and the player’s ability to fit in their respective environments. Neither Brown nor Bell would fit into the low-profile Green Bay, the smallest sports market in America.

Many players move on from one location to another, and some find a large degree of success. Such is the joke you see on every message board when a mediocre or under-performing player is getting cut or traded, “watch them go to New England and become a Pro Bowl player.”

New England is known around the NFL as the success factory. And with six Super Bowl titles since the Patriots drafted a lanky, slow quarterback in the year 2000, who can argue?

Talent can only take a player so far before coaching and environment need to support the talent in order to create success. In New England, coaching and environment is a very consistent force, and it has paid major dividends.

It is much the same way in terms of consistency in Green Bay, no matter how loudly fans boo about the worst win-loss record since 2005. However, where the Patriots are sometimes linked to some unsavory or troublesome names, Green Bay commonly values character over talent.

Any fan would be hard-pressed to find a year-over-year contributor on the Packers roster that gives reporters and columnists reasons to write about them on personal elements. Bell and Brown are a different story.

Brown’s troubles have come from some off-the-field actions that were dangerous and reflected badly on his character. This included throwing furniture off of his balcony, and publicly airing his frustrations with the mother of his own children on Instagram.

Bell’s scenario is one entirely of his own making, which has drawn contrasting opinions everywhere. He refused to play because he wanted to get paid an exorbitant amount of money, more than many running backs in the NFL would ever dream of making.

Then Todd Gurley got paid, and the Steelers called Bell’s bluff all season long. Reports have since surfaced, saying that Bell gained weight during his season off, which he has since mocked openly and most news sources have debunked.

Weight or not, the knowledge of how far Bell will take a salary negotiation cannot be ignored. The Packers cannot take a gamble on one, let alone two of the Killer B’s when the franchise is already in uncharted waters with new head coach Matt LaFleur at the helm.

LaFleur was picked for the job for the same reason that Mike McCarthy was chosen at the beginning of his tenure; he wanted to make a commitment to honor the lifestyle and attitude of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Very rarely does anybody associate Green Bay with larger-than-life personalities playing anything but quarterback.

Personality aside, I’ll throw out a set of names from similar circumstances that didn’t pan out.

Antonio Brown: Jerry Porter. Alvin Harper. David Boston.

All talented players, succeeded with their original teams (at varying degrees, certainly less than Brown has), and completely flopped in another environment.

However, the argument can be made that the only thing wrong with Antonio Brown is his environment, similar to Randy Moss moving from Oakland to New England. Moss broke the single-season receiving touchdown record while with the New England Patriots, and he had a much closer career stat line to that of Brown’s than the formerly mentioned receivers at that point in his career, per Pro Football Reference.

Some big names in sportscasting and writing are saying that Brown being matched with Aaron Rodgers is a match made in heaven. But this isn’t a Madden game, which coincidentally proudly features Brown on its most recent cover.

Players are people, too, and it’s entirely possible to find a wrong fit, as Packers fans saw with Martellus Bennett not long ago. We, as fans, can’t expect Antonio Brown to suddenly level off, stop broadcasting the locker room, stop openly criticizing his teammates and personal acquaintances, to stop being “AB.”

Le’Veon Bell: Ahman Green, Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James

This case is a much easier one to make than Antonio Brown. Le’Veon Bell held out for a simple reason – he is a multi-talented player, effective in the passing and rushing game, and he wanted to be paid in a manner that respects that value.

That entire argument gets washed out by the unfortunate fact that he is registered on the roster as a running back. And NFL teams will not overpay for anything less than the perfect running back, regardless of their prowess when split out wide.

Bell is attempting to make himself the pioneer of change for his position in a league that saw him be replaced by James Conner, and Steeler nation never looked back. The aforementioned Todd Gurley also, despite his massive contract, played very little in the playoffs, despite having no listed injuries.

Green, Smith, and James were all those ideal running backs for years for their respective teams. However, all good things had to come to an end, and in this case, age caught up to the three we’re comparing Bell to.

Le’Veon Bell simply wants too much to be a no-brainer signing. But some teams are more desperate than Green Bay, with more resources too.

Bell is still young, and has proven his versatility in all facets of an offensive gameplan. But he has scared off most of his prospective suitors with his willingness to withhold participation in order to turn his year-over-year franchise tag into a groundbreaking contract.

Pittsburgh has been a breeding ground for brash personalities over the past decade, with Bell and Brown being the largest of the names to pick from. Green Bay, aside from a few instances here and there, doesn’t experience that kind of negative press often, and it’s likely they prefer to keep it that way.

Atop all of this, Davante Adams has shared a quick thought about the idea.

Decipher from that what you will, but Green Bay often doesn’t chase wide receivers, or many players for that matter, that make demands on Twitter. This tweet is from the account of a Packers veteran that inked a contract for the long haul last season.

If the Packers really want a wide receiver named Brown, they should be tuned in this Saturday to watch Antonio’s cousin “Hollywood” Brown at the NFL Combine.

With the money the Packers have available, and the young players already in Green Bay’s offense that are already blooming, neither Brown nor Bell are worth the risk that comes with their undoubtedly high price tags. That money can easily go to one of the many high-caliber, less polarizing players that are hitting the market on the defensive side of the ball.

There’s very little chance that Equanimeous St. Brown or Marquez Valdes-Scantling will produce to the level that Brown has. There’s very little chance that Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams will make third-year jumps that see them producing as effectively as Bell has.

But their personalities and talent fit the two of them perfectly in the Green Bay environment.

Green Bay does not need Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell. They need Jadeveon Clowney, or Tyrann Mathieu, or Earl Thomas, or Dee Ford, or a mess of other helpful pieces to create a lockdown defense.

Even better than that, the Packers need some quality players on the offensive line. Green Bay needs to support a new offense featuring one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

Is the roster perfect? No.

But an ill-tempered wide receiver on the wrong side of 30 and a running back who may now be remembered for his holdout rather than his play are not the answer.

dark. Next. 10 things Packers must do to reach Super Bowl LIV

Neither of them fit the Packers modus operandi. Let’s see if Gutekunst has a great offseason without Pittsburgh’s estranged players instead.