The talks that already have some Steelers fans on edge have begun, and so far so good when it comes to keeping wide out Antonio Brown a happy camper.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and super agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Brown, have starting chatting about the future of the receiver and what it’s going to take to keep him in Pittsburgh.
This season AB is set to make $6.25 million. It’s the fifth year of a six-year deal that he inked after Mike Wallace turned down a similar deal the Steelers had offered – six years at $44 million.
Brown said the Steelers have been “first class” to him in the past, including restructuring his contract last year to move $2 million of future salary into 2015 as a way to please the talented receiver. The Steelers could employ a similar method this year.
Brown never had plans to hold out, but adds, “You have to take care of your guys. If a guy underperforms, you get rid of him. If a guy overperforms, you take care of him.”
There’s no doubt that Brown is underpaid when it comes to what he makes and wide outs around the NFL make. He’s the teams biggest playmaker, and without him, the team looks vastly different, like in last year’s AFC Divisional Playoff loss to the Broncos.
The Steelers usually don’t do anything with a player until he’s set to reach the last year of his deal, but in the case of Brown, I don’t think anyone would be upset if they ripped up his current deal and made him a much better offer to keep him in the Steel City for a long time to come.
Brown is the best skill player on the roster, and has been the team MVP more than once. Pro Football Talk had some thoughts on the matter and how the Steelers may be able to get Brown the money he wants to stay aboard.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently suggested on PFT Live that the team would likely do it again, borrowing from Brown’s $8.7 million salary in 2017 to pump up his 2016 base pay. The 8.7 million dollar question becomes how much will be moved? With Brown undoubtedly in line to get an extension next year, the money on the books for 2017 becomes irrelevant.
The negotiations for 2016, then, will focus on determining how much of the 2017 base salary that will be wiped clean with a new contract in a year should be slid into the current year.
The Steelers have always been able to be creative to get players what they want, and here’s hoping they do the same with Brown – and soon.