The Antonio Brown saga took its latest turn Tuesday when the disgruntled wide receiver met with Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II. The two sides “cleared the air on several issues,” Brown said via social media, but “both agreed that it is time to move on.”
Because Brown has three years remaining on his contract, the only way to “move on” is via trade, and though the salary cap math would likely work out for Pittsburgh — the team’s ability to sign players wouldn’t be affected too much this offseason and would get even better next offseason with Brown’s salary off the books — the Steelers would have to find a team willing to give him a reworked contract full of guaranteed money, considering Brown’s promise Monday that he “ain’t doing no unguarantees.”
“If your squad want to win and your squad want a hungry wide receiver who’s the best in the whole world, someone hit my phone,” Brown said in an Instagram video of him working out on an elliptical machine. “Tell them I ain’t doing no unguarantees. I ain’t even gonna play myself no more for this NFL. . . . I think I done everything. What y’all think? What’s left for me to do? Win a Super Bowl? Gotta be the right team for that, right? . . . If your team got guaranteed money, they want to get to know me and work with me, tell them to call me.”
Ideally, the Steelers would like to resolve this situation by March 17, when Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus. The 30-year-old, who said in the video that he wants to be called “Mr. Big Chest” from now on, has no guaranteed money remaining on the four-year contract extension he signed in 2017.
Brown has averaged 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns over the past six seasons, elite and consistent numbers unmatched over that time.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Tuesday’s meeting eventually included Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, along with Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert and executive Omar Khan. A source told Schefter that the meeting was cordial and “everyone agreed the trade will be for the best.” The Steelers want a high draft pick for Brown, ESPN reported.
Tensions between the Steelers and Brown — specifically among the wide receiver, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Coach Mike Tomlin — bubbled over late in the regular season and have grown during an offseason in which Brown said Roethlisberger has an “owner mentality” and accused Tomlin of telling his teammates that Brown had quit on them.
More NFL coverage: