The Buffalo Bills inquired about a trade for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, but have now moved on, GM Brandon Beane said in a statement early Friday.
"We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers," Beane said. "We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side.
"As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.”
The initial report from sources that the Bills were close to a trade for Brown came from NFL Media's Ian Rapoport late Thursday night. On Friday morning, Rapoport reported the Bills had been near a trade and had spoken to Brown's agent Drew Rosenhaus, but Brown "would not commit to showing up in Buffalo."
However, an NFL source Thursday night told the News that while the Bills had inquired about Brown, a deal was not imminent. Another NFL source said Friday morning that Bills officials had considered the deal dead Wednesday, a day before the initial NFL Media report.
Brown himself quickly shot down the report referring to it as "fake news" on his Instagram account.
Reports had indicated a number of teams had withdrawn from trade talks in the last few days, potentially indicating the asking price was too high. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Thursday that there was not a Friday deadline for a deal, contrary to other reports, although a deal likely would happen before the start of the league year on Wednesday.
Albert Breer reported Friday morning that there are "very few options left" for Brown and the Steelers to find a trade partner.
Brown has forced the Steelers to trade him with his behavior toward the end of the season that led to his being benched for the final game. He has been critical of the coaches and teammates, notably quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and expressed dissatisfaction with his contract since the season ended.
Beane was asked about Brown during the Scouting Combine last week. “He’s on another team, but here’s what I’ll say is, good players like that you always do your due diligence,” Beane told reporters. “You know I’ve made moves before. If there’s an opportunity at any position to make a move that we think is a good fit for us, we’ll do it.”
Brown, 31, is in the third year of a five-year contract and is owed $15.1 million next season, $11.3 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021. The only portion of the remaining that is guaranteed is a $2.5 million roster bonus March 17, on the third day of the league year.
He has had six consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,200 yards. The Bills have only had one thousand-yard receiver during the period that Brown has had six such seasons. Sammy Watkins had 1,047 yards in 2015.
News Bills Beat writer Vic Carucci contributed to this report.