While all-world receiver Antonio Brown is confident that the Steelers will address his contract before the beginning of the regular season, the team is unlikely to rip it up in favor of a new deal, reports Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The club could instead advance Brown $2MM in salary for the second straight year and then negotiate a new accord with him at season’s end. However, there is precedent for the Steelers giving Brown a new deal with two years left on it, as Fittipaldo notes. Pittsburgh handed Brown a five-year, $41MM contract after the 2011 season, his second in the NFL. Although Brown is underpaid on his current deal relative to his stellar production, Fittipaldo points out that, between what the Steelers signed him to in 2012 and will award him on his next contract, the 28-year-old will earn far more than many other members of the 2010 draft class (Dez Bryant, for instance).
Elsewhere around the AFC…
- The Jets finally re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this week, leading to questions about fellow signal-caller’s Geno Smith roster status. It turns out that New York does not plan to move on from Smith this summer, general manager Mike Maccagnan said Friday (Twitter link via Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday). Asked if Smith will be on the Jets’ Week 1 roster, Maccagnan stated, “I would assume so. Right now, I know we like Geno Smith… Geno’s in our plans.” In addition to Smith, who has struggled since the Jets chose him in the second round of the 2013 draft, Gang Green has rookie second-rounder Christian Hackenberg and 2015 fourth-rounder Bryce Petty in reserve. With those two around and Smith’s lack of long-term security (he’ll be a free agent after the season), this is likely his final year with the franchise.
- The Bills are “standing pat” with their quarterbacks, GM Doug Whaley said Friday (Twitter link via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News). Buffalo was reportedly in the hunt for free agent Nick Foles after the Rams released him Thursday, though Carucci quickly shot that down. Behind starter Tyrod Taylor, who’s a candidate for a contract extension, the Bills have EJ Manuel and rookie fourth-rounder Cardale Jones as options. Manuel’s career strongly resembles Smith’s: Both were high picks in 2013 (Manuel went in Round 1) and have since failed to established themselves as starting-caliber NFL QBs. Manuel, like Smith, is in a contract year and could be in his last season with the club that drafted him. The ex-Florida State Seminole appeared in seven games (two starts) in 2015 and went 52 of 84 with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
- Speaking of Carucci, the insider shared his thoughts on several Bills topics with PFR’s Zach Links on Friday.
- The Titans added a household name to their receiving corps Friday, agreeing to a deal with Andre Johnson.