Yes, the Steelers may not have to actually pay any of Antonio Brown‘s $2.5 million roster bonus if he’s traded after March 16. But they don’t want the roster bonus to hit their books as of March 17, for cap purposes.
That’s why the Steelers have asked Brown to delay the due date of the bonus, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Brown declined.
The Steelers already will be eating $21.12 million in dead money by trading Brown. If they wait until after the roster bonus becomes due, the cap charge moves to $23.62 million. And the Steelers want to keep that from happening.
Thus, despite G.M. Kevin Colbert’s contention that Brown could be traded after the bonus becomes due, the Steelers hope to get a trade done before the close of business on March 16, at which time Brown’s roster spot on March 17 will become locked in. And there’s still optimism from Brown’s perspective that a trade can be accomplished, despite Brown’s expectation that his contract will be renegotiated.
Along those lines, keep this in mind: Brown hasn’t ruled out approving a trade without a new contract in place at the time of the transaction, but simply with an understanding that a new deal will be done by his new team. That could make it a lot easier to get the trade done before the Steelers find themselves eating another $2.5 million in dead money.