Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was a no-show for practice on Monday, team sources tell Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The reason for his absence is unclear, but it may be cause for concern after Brown had an unusual Twitter exchange with a former Steelers employee.
After an ex-Steelers PR man intimated that Brown would not be an elite receiver without teammate Ben Roethlisberger, Brown responded, “Trade me let’s find out.” Brown’s decision to skip practice isn’t necessarily related, however, and it’s even possible that his absence was excused by coach Mike Tomlin. At the moment, details are scarce, but Brown did appear to be upset on the field during the Steelers’ 42-37 loss to the Chiefs and reportedly left the locker room in a huff.
Brown, the league’s most talented wide receiver, was as fearsome as ever in 2017 as he caught 101 passes for a league-leading 1,533 yards with nine touchdowns. After yet another spectacular season, Brown earned his sixth career Pro Bowl selection and fourth consecutive First-Team All-Pro nod.
The star receiver inked an extension with Pittsburgh in February of 2017. At the time, the four-year, $68MM extension made him the highest-paid receiver of all-time on a yearly basis with an average annual value of $17MM. This offseason, the 30-year-old agreed to tweak his payout structure in order to give the Steelers some cap relief.
For what it’s worth, Roethlisberger believes that Brown’s sideline flare-up with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was “just frustration,” and doesn’t believe that the receiver wants to be traded (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler). Still, Big Ben says that he’ll talk with Brown on Wednesday.
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