Calling himself a mentor of Antonio Brown, Hall of Famer Terrell Owens said Friday that the wideout "wants to move on" from the Pittsburgh Steelers, in part because of a fractured relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Owens was asked on a Pro Football Talk podcast if he's gotten the impression Brown wants out.
"Absolutely," Owens replied. "He wants to move on. ... I don't like how Ben has kind of thrown him under the bus in certain instances. ... I think Ben owes him a lot more respect than he has given him. ... I mean even from the standpoint of him saying he didn't know anything about a blowup [during practice in Week 17] when he was part of the blowup."
Owens said he's been in touch regularly with Brown, who was criticized publicly by Roethlisberger on a few occasions prior to the Week 17 dustup and ensuing lack of communication with the team.
"I've talked with Antonio Brown throughout the course of year," Owens said. "And I've kind of known some of what has been going on. He's leaned on me for advice, as somewhat of a mentor, so to speak. ... I think with him, I think it's a fresh start to go elsewhere and part ways with the organization and with some of the things than he and Ben have been confronted with."
Steelers president Art Rooney II has been open about the possibility-perhaps likelihood-of the team moving on from Brown this offseason, but he's left the door cracked for a reconciliation, assuming Brown and the team can resolve their issues. However, reports have said Brown will not return calls from Rooney, head coach Mike Tomlin or others, and there has been no sign the wideout is interested in a reconciliation.
Brown hasn't spoken publicly on the matter, but Owens' comments come 11 days after his former teammate with the San Francisco 49ers, Jerry Rice, said Brown told him on FaceTime that he wants to join the Niners.
Owens was a bit more cryptic with his wording, but also indicated Brown has his eyes on San Francisco.
"I talked to him on a couple of occasions, and I'm not hear to air anybody's messages or ... conversations, but he's asked me how the Bay Area was on several occasions," Owens said.
Brown, who turns 31 in July, is coming off his sixth straight Pro Bowl appearance after totaling 104 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro four years in a row from 2014 to 2017.
He is entering the second year of a four-year, $68 million contract extension that will pay him around $39 million over the final three years, including $15.125 million in 2019. The Steelers would save just over $1 million of his $22.2 million cap number by trading him.