Last year, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown agitated (sort of) for a new contract. Ultimately, after missing a minor aspect of Phase One of the offseason program, Brown showed up and adopted the Sam Bradford pretend-nothing-happened posture.
The Steelers eventually shuffled around some money, moving $2 million from 2016 to 2015. Of course, he’s now facing $2 million less in 2016 than he was supposed to make under the six-year, $43 million deal signed before the 2012 season.
This year, Brown isn’t taking a direct stand. But by participating in ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, Brown necessarily has reduced his participation in the offseason program. The Steelers, however, have no issue with his decision.
“There is physical risk, but you know in all honesty I’d much rather worry about that than worry about the guys doing something off the field,” G.M. Kevin Colbert said on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “It’s a positive kind of activity. It’s fun for him. It’s fun for our fans. He knows what he has to do from a conditioning standpoint. In fact, I think it was two weeks ago he danced on Monday night and he was here Tuesday morning for the workouts. So Antonio is not somebody we ever worry about working, being in condition. In fact it’s probably the opposite; we worry about him over conditioning. I’m sure whenever that ends and we hope he goes all the way and wins the thing because it’ll be exciting for him and really for our fans. But he’ll be here and we have no concerns at all about Antonio Brown showing up in shape.”
The bigger question is whether the Steelers have anything in the works this year to adjust Brown’s deal, which runs through 2017.
“He does have two years left and we expect that to be honored without any issue,” Colbert said, after declining to address whether further adjustments will be made, citing the team’s habit of not publicly discussing player contracts. “Again, Antonio’s a unique player. We understand that and he understands our policies. I don’t ever see that changing as long as we still have the mindset that it’s been good for the organization. Again we understand that he’s a special player and we’re glad we have him for two more years anyway.”
The Steelers typically won’t extend a contract that has more than two years remaining, with the exception of the quarterback position. Arguably, an exception to the exception could be made as to Brown, given his importance to the team.
He becomes even more important to the team now that Martavis Bryant is gone for a full year due to multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy. For now, though, Brown will likely have to wait to get the kind of deal that reflects his value relative to other receives in the NFL.