TIOPS Inside Buzz

*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

1. More Leadership needed from Wideouts? Antonio Brown’s work ethic outside of game days to fine his craft is rarely matched by others. It’s what has made him into one of the NFL’s best receivers and saw him become the fastest receiver in NFL history to 600 receptions, doing it Sunday in his 96th career game.

But is Brown doing a good enough job in leading by example for an inexperienced wide receiver group?

Emerging is more and more talk in Steelers circles that Brown has been a bad apple at times and a bad influence on Sammie Coates, Eli Rodgers in critical areas such as attention to details and these inexperienced receivers learning to play the position the right away.

While Brown looks to the media and fan base as someone whose top priority is his stats, that’s how he’s also looked at by his teammates.

The organization lives with it because of how good Brown is but sources say coaches believe this group of receivers is strongly missing a Jericho Cotchery type for the young group of receivers to learn from.

Finding that type of veteran is surely going to be a priority this off-season.

2. McCutchen trade to lead to acquisition of Chris Archer or Sonny Gray?: Those close to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle say Hurdle has told members of the coaching staff he’ll be “stunned” as one source put it, if Andrew McCutchen is a Pirate when the team opens spring training.

The noise coming out of the organization is that a McCutchen trade could be a precursor [hide] to something bigger where the Pirates restock an already strong farm system with a McCutchen for mostly futures trade then turn around and acquire a Chris Archer or Sonny Gray, two pitchers the Pirates have strong interest in.

Gray is under team control through the 2019 season, Archer has team options that would have him under team control through 2020.

Those are scenarios the Pirates are looking at and why they’re open to a deal that will look on paper as more of a prospect driven return.

The key with this organization is always long-term flexibility.

3. The Penguins have been receiving trade calls on Nick Bonino since the summer. Told they even received what’s been described as a “significant” offer for Bonino in the summer. However, Jim Rutherford’s message to rival GM’s has been the same in that Bonino’s not available and he’s willing to lose Bonino for nothing.

Should that change?

One mistake the Penguins made during the Shero years and even in Jim Rutherford’s first season where the Penguins had options to move Paul Martin for a first round pick during the 2014-2015 season, is letting non-core plays walk via free agency when the Penguins have internal options who can fill their void that wouldn’t upset their chances of chasing a Stanley Cup.

Bonino has become an interesting scenario in how he should be valued from the Penguins end.

This summer the agent Peter Fish was looking at Frans Nielsen’s deal as an example of what could be out there for Bonino. He made himself a lot of money with his playoff run, has been the feeling in Bonino’s camp.

What Bonino brings to the table isn’t always measured with stats. Still, even Brandon Sutter could put up 20 goals in a third line role when playing with crap linemates.

Well the Penguins are confident that Jake Guentzel can make a smooth transition to left wing at the NHL level, scouts contend he likely projects to be a better center than winger.

When you have a player like Guentzel when there’s a pretty strong consensus among scouts, coaches he’s going to be an impact NHLer soon, you shouldn’t get backed into a corner with players who helped you win in the past. Pittsburgh should avoid any deal over $3.25 million per.

4. Interesting goalie decision coming up for the Penguins tonight. Since Matt Murray made his first start of the season, Marc Andre Fleury hasn’t made consecutive starts. Does Fleury get rewarded for his strong play in OT vs the Sabres as a sign of respect and get the nod tonight?

I can tell you that some in management hope to see it.

The Penguins had mapped out for Murray to start, per a source, but that is always subject to change.