It’s been assumed that, if the Steelers trade receiver Antonio Brown, they’ll do so before his $2.5 million roster bonus comes due on March 17. That’s not necessarily the case.
In a Wednesday interview with PFT Live, G.M. Kevin Colbert didn’t rule out paying the bonus and then trading Brown at some point after that.
Colbert also suggested that a trade could come closer in time to the draft — or that the team could determine based on what happens in and around the draft to keep Brown. And keeping Brown continues to be an option because Colbert believes that Brown could change his mind about leaving.
Brown wants to leave, Colbert believes, because the team didn’t make the playoffs. Putting it another way, Colbert thinks Brown never would have gotten to the point where he wants out but for the frustration and disappointment that comes from not making it to the postseason.
Looking back at the way the season ended, the Week 15 win over the Patriots gave the Steelers a lift. But the Week 16 loss to the Saints (coupled with a Week 16 Saturday night Ravens win over the Chargers) changed the vibe dramatically, setting the stage for Brown’s Wednesday walkout and the various events that followed.
Of course, there’s a chance the Steelers are simply saying what they have to say in order to get the best possible offer before March 17, with the intent to take the best offer on March 17. Along those lines, Colbert specifically declined to identify the current number of teams that are interested in Brown, despite acknowledging that they have heard from more teams than last week’s number (three) and pointing out that, based on conversations this week at the Scouting Combine, other teams could become interested.