Antonio Brown

Steelers’ Antonio Brown Facing Two Lawsuits

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is facing a pair of lawsuits stemming from an incident in April (via ESPN.com). Brown is being accused of throwing items from the balcony of a South Florida apartment which nearly hit a 2-year-old child who was outside near the pool area. For his part, Brown says the accusations are bogus. 

It has now been made public that two lawsuits containing false claims have been filed against me,” Brown said in a statement. “The facts will soon come out that prove my innocence. My focus will remain on football and I will not let the cases serve as a distraction.”

Meanwhile, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says that the league is monitoring the civil suits. The NFL reserves the right to punish players even when courts find in their favor, so Brown could be subject to a suspension if the league office finds that the accusations have merit. League investigations are usually lengthy and often do not conclude before the legal process wraps up, so Brown is unlikely to face NFL discipline during the 2018 season. If anything, Brown could be looking at some sort of punishment in 2019, depending on how things play out.

This isn’t the first potential distraction that Brown has faced this year. In September, Brown missed a Steelers practice after getting into a social media spat with a former employee. Brown made reference to a trade in that exchange on Twitter, but he has since reaffirmed his desire to stay in Pittsburgh.

Brown had some down games this year (at least, by his standards) and some communication issues with Ben Roethlisberger, but everything seems to be back on track after he had six catches for 101 yards in two scores on Sunday against the Falcons. The Steelers won that game 41-17, bringing them to 2-2-1 on the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Steelers, Bengals, Bucs

Antonio Brown‘s decision to skip practice on Monday represented a culmination of months of tension between the Steelers and their All-Pro receiver, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Brown was upset earlier this year after being told that his personal trainer and social media manager would no longer be welcome on Pittsburgh’s practice field, and some within the organization believe his multi-day absence during training camp — ostensibly due to a injury — was instead related to his disappointment. Ultimately, the Steelers believe Brown simply wants to win, but there is reportedly also concern with the club that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s close relationship with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner (and his subsequent influence on play-calling) could cause more strain in the locker room.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • Bengals running back Joe Mixon could potentially return to the field in time for Week 4, per La Canfora. Mixon underwent knee surgery immediately following Cincinnati’s Week 3 Thursday night victory, and initial assessments indicated he could be sidelined two-to-four weeks. However, because the Bengals played mid-week in Week 3, Mixon’s timeline could be sped up, meaning he could return to action when Cincinnati faces Atlanta next Sunday. A second-round pick in 2017, Mixon was outstanding during the Bengals’ season opener, averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry on the ground while adding five receptions in the passing game. Backup Giovani Bernard is holding down the fort while Mixon is out, while the Bengals also have Mark Walton and Thomas Rawls on their running back depth chart.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is unlikely to be replaced as the Buccaneers‘ starting quarterback no matter how he fares against the Steelers on Monday night, reports La Canfora. While Jameis Winston will come off suspension prior to Week 4, Fitzpatrick has been among the league’s best quarterbacks through two games, as he leads the NFL passing yardage while racking up eight passing touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has internal support within the locker room (and especially from Tampa Bay’s offensive line), so the club’s coaching staff is unlikely to make a change any time soon. The Buccaneers face the Bears in Week 4 before heading into a bye the following week.
  • The Raiders will move to Las Vegas either in 2019 or 2020, and they could potentially need a temporary stadium for the 2019 campaign if no extension with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority can be reached. With that in mind, the Raiders have contacted the city of San Diego about playing there next season, says La Canfora, who notes that such as possibility is viewed as remote. More likely, the Raiders will play one year in Oakland, or spend next season sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

Antonio Brown Addresses Controversy

Antonio Brown raised eyebrows this week when he got into a Twitter spat with an ex-Steelers employee and subsequently skipped a team practice. In his tweet, Brown seemingly dared the Steelers to trade him, but Brown insists that he wants to stay put. 

It was a guy that used to work here, a PR guy … [taking] a personal shot at me,” Brown said (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) “But, obviously, I don’t want to be traded and I’m still grateful to put on my uniform…I just got to stay away from online with the distractions.

Already, head coach Mike Tomlin and agent Drew Rosenhaus have thrown cold water on the notion that the wide receiver wants out of Pittsburgh. This week’s hysteria may have been much ado about nothing, but no one can be blamed for speculating on the matter, particularly given Le’Veon Bell‘s ongoing holdout.

Although Brown is admittedly frustrated with the Steelers’ slow start, he is clearly on board with the team. The stage could be set for a classic performance against the Buccaneers on Monday night, provided that Brown’s calf injury from Week 2 has healed up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Agent: Brown Has Not Asked For Trade

On Tuesday morning, Mike Tomlin told reporters that Antonio Brown has not asked to be traded from the Steelers. Now, Brown’s agent has confirmed that the wide receiver is not looking to leave Pittsburgh. 

The tweet [on Monday] was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows. It was not directed towards a trade, or wanting to be trading. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said in a statement to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter links).

Rosenhaus went on to explain that Brown’s surprising absence from Monday’s practice was not tied to any sort of dissatisfaction with the club.

Antonio had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That’s all that that is,” Rosenhaus said. “That’s not anything more than him encouraging his coaches and teammates to win. And that’s what his entire focus is on. Any notion, any speculation otherwise, can be put to bed. This is a non-story that has been blown out of proportion. We can end this right here and now.”

Brown was visibly upset with Steelers coaches during Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, but it sounds like both sides are committed to smoothing things out. Brown is slated to talk with Tomlin on Tuesday and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Wednesday to clear the air. Then, on Monday, Brown and the Steelers will look to capture their first win of the season against the Buccaneers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers HC: Brown Has Not Asked For Trade

Antonio Brown‘s absence from Monday’s practice raised some eyebrows, but the wide receiver is not looking to leave Pittsburgh, according to coach Mike Tomlin. At a Tuesday morning press conference, Tomlin said that Brown has not requested a trade. 

Brown, however, was visibly displeased with Steelers coaches during Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and he dared the club to trade him on Twitter in an online spat with a former team employee. Although Tomlin says there’s no reason to panic, he did confirm that he will meet with Brown on Tuesday to smooth out any in-house issues.

Brown opened the season by catching nine passes for 93 yards including one tremendous third quarter touchdown against the Browns. This past weekend, he remained productive with nine grabs for 67 yards, but lost his cool in the fourth quarter when talking with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. Pittsburgh lost the Week 2 contest against Kansas City, leaving the Steelers winless heading into their Monday night game against the Buccaneers.

We already saw one noteworthy wide receiver change teams this week, but Tomlin asserts that Brown is not looking to join Gordon on the transactions wire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers’ Antonio Brown Misses Practice

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Notes: Brown, Dobbs, Boswell, Bell

Antonio Brown missed eight out of 10 OTA practices held by the Steelers. While a star player missing OTAs certainly isn’t uncommon, it is for Brown. As laid out by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Brown is a “football junkie”and him missing OTAs is something that’s very out of character. Kaboly writes that he “couldn’t tell you the last time that he missed a training camp practice or a regular-season practice” and that “in Brown’s eight previous seasons he may have missed two total OTAs.”

Kaboly notes that even in past seasons where Brown was unhappy with his contract and demanding a new one, he still showed up for OTAs. So what’s responsible for Brown’s sudden prolonged absence from the voluntary portions of the Steelers’ offseason program?

It’s anyone’s guess, but it’s surely a distraction Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers’ coaching staff would rather not have.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Kaboly thinks quarterback Josh Dobbs is a near certainty to not make the 53-man roster. Despite being taken in the fourth round last year, the Steelers appeared to throw in the towel on Dobbs by taking Mason Rudolph in the third round this year. Kaboly writes that Landry Jones is locked in as the backup quarterback and that “there is no impending camp battle” for the position. With Rudolph assured a spot as the number three, Dobbs is very likely to be cut as the Steelers “always keep only three quarterbacks” notes Kaboly.
  • Wide receiver Marcus Tucker has a “real shot” at making the team, according to Kaboly. Tucker has spent the last two seasons on the Steelers’ practice squad and “was one of the best receivers during OTAs” he writes.
  • During a recent Q & A with fans, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that he thinks the Steelers will extend kicker Chris Boswell this offseason, but not running back Le’Veon Bell. Both Boswell and Bell are set to be free agents after the year, but Bouchette thinks the Steelers will again play it year-to-year with Bell.

Steelers’ Antonio Brown Restructures Deal

Antonio Brown has agreed to restructure his contract with the Steelers, according to his latest Instagram story. The Drew Rosenhaus client will have his 2018 salary fully guaranteed in a move that will give him additional security while freeing up some additional cap room for the team. 

Pittsburgh has created $9.7MM in cap space by reworking Brown’s deal, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. That means the Steelers converted Browns’s entire $6MM roster bonus and all but $915K of his 2018 base salary into a signing bonus.

Brown, the league’s most talented wide receiver, inked an extension with Pittsburgh in February of 2017. 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. Brown’s signing bonus and reduced 2017 salaries made up the only guaranteed portions of the pact, so the 29-year-old (30 in July) was amenable to having his 2018 pay locked down.

Brown 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. In his Instagram video, Rosenhaus does a celebratory toast with Brown to celebrate his future first ballot Hall of Fame induction. You won’t find anyone who will argue with that.

The Steelers have one of the tightest cap situations in the NFL this offseason, but Brown’s restructure should help them in their quest to extend Le’Veon Bell and address other needs in free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers’ Eli Rogers Tore ACL Last Sunday

The Steelers will not be playing in the AFC Championship this weekend, but still have an injury to deal with after last Sunday’s game. We have learned that Pittsburgh wide receiver Eli Rogers did tear his ACL on the team’s final drive of their loss to the Jaguars in the divisional round, reports Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Eli Rogers (Vertical)

Rogers, 25, sat as the Steelers fourth receiver on the depth chart for most of the year, but did get a lot more chances in the slot when Antonio Brown went down with an injury in the last two weeks of the regular season. In all, the former undrafted free agent made 18 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown in 14 games. This stands well below his productive 2016 season in which he caught 48 balls for close to 600 yards and three scores.

According to Dulac, head coach Mike Tomlin did not mention the injury in a season ending press conference that took place on Tuesday. However, the wideout will now have all offseason to recover from his torn ACL. He will be a restricted free agent this offseason after signing a three-year contract coming out of college in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Notes: Brown, Bell, Haley

Antonio Brown is likely to play in the Steelers’ divisional round contest against Jacksonville this afternoon, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports, although Schefter adds that Brown’s injured calf is not close to being fully healed. The league’s top wideout, who is one month removed from the partially torn left calf muscle that forced him to miss the final two games of the regular season, will go through pregame warmups to test the calf, but as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets, every expectation is that Brown will play and will play regularly. Brown was forced to miss Friday’s practice because of an illness, but he was a full participant in practices on Wednesday and Thursday, and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that Brown’s illness will not impact his playing status [Twitter update: Brown is active, per Schefter].

Now for several more notes on the AFC North champions:

  • His idle threats notwithstanding, no one expects Le’Veon Bell to retire or sit out the 2018 season if he is hit with the franchise tag for the second straight year, least of all the Steelers themselves. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link), the Steelers are indeed expected to put the franchise tag on Bell, which has been a foregone conclusion for some time now. As Rapoport observes, Pittsburgh has historically refused to cede to the demands of players who threaten to sit out, and he does not expect the club to change it standard operating procedure for Bell. If Bell does play 2018 under the tag, he will have earned roughly $26.5MM over the 2017-18 seasons, while he would have earned $30MM if he signed the long-term deal the Steelers offered him last year. Nonetheless, we will still need to wait to see what the future holds before we can say for sure whether that was a wise financial move for Bell.
  • We heard at the end of December that the relationship between Ben Roethlisberger and OC Todd Haley is strained, but Rapoport goes one step further, saying that the relationship “is in as bad of a place as it’s been in years.” Nonetheless, Roethlisberger has thrived under Haley’s leadership, which puts the Steelers in something of a bind. Haley’s contract expires at the end of the season, so Pittsburgh will need to decide whether it wants to bring him back and hope he and Big Ben can put aside their personal differences since the on-field product has been so good, or whether it wants to move on. Of course, the decision could be made for the Steelers if Roethlisberger makes good on his threat to retire, or if offensive line coach Mike Munchak gets a head coaching job elsewhere and brings Haley with him, which Rapoport says is a distinct possibility.
  • Speaking of Munchak, who has already interviewed with the Cardinals for their head coaching job, we heard this morning that he could be a dark horse candidate for the Giants’ HC vacancy.