Antonio Brown

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.

Antonio Brown To Be A Game-Time Decision?

The Steelers have been without star wideout Antonio Brown since the middle of their week 15 contest against the Patriots. While the team expected that the 29-year-old would be ready for their divisional round contest, Brown is set to be a game-time decision on Sunday, a source tells Pro Football Talk (Twitter link).

Antonio Brown (vertical)

Brown has been recovering from a partially torn calf muscle, but the injury has lagged perhaps longer than Pittsburgh expected. The veteran receiver relies on quickness and sharp cuts rather than sheer strength, so this particular injury could have even more of an impact than it would on other bigger star playmakers.

The eight-year vet had produced what could have been his best statistical year during the regular season. He caught over 100 passes in 14 games and his 1,533 yards ranks third-most for a season in Brown’s career. The All-pro also reeled in nine touchdowns in 2017.

However, the Steelers wouldn’t be without weapons should Brown miss their first playoff game. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant and Jesse James would be the primary receiving threats in his absence. Obviously Ben Roethlisberger would rely on star running back Le’Veon Bell even more with Brown on the sidelines.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown To Be 100 Percent Vs. Jags?

The three weeks of rest look to have Antonio Brown ready to return to action after a partially torn calf sidelined him.

While the Steelers’ top weapon was set to be ready to return to action for the team’s second-round game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link) the four-time All-Pro wide receiver’s calf setback is not much of a concern presently.

Brown is expected to be back at full strength, with Rapoport saying he could have played today had Pittsburgh been required to, for the Steelers’ rematch against the Jaguars next Sunday.

Prior to Brown going down in Week 15 against the Patriots, he had not missed a regular-season game due to injury during his run of four consecutive All-Pro distinctions. Brown did, however, miss a 2015 divisional-round game because of a concussion. The Steelers, who have also seen injuries to Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger injuries limit the team at key junctures over the past three seasons, will at least enter this year’s playoff bracket with each of their cornerstone performers healthy.

Despite missing 2 1/2 games, Brown led the NFL with 1,533 receiving yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Expected To Be Available For Divisional Round

December 31, 11:45am: Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Brown was still limping at the start of this week but has shown progress since, and the Steelers believe he will be ready for the team’s first playoff game two weeks from now. Brown probably could not have returned for the wildcard round if Pittsburgh had not secured a first-round bye, but since it did lock in one of the AFC’s top two seeds, Brown will get an extra week to recover.

December 24, 1:49pm: If the Steelers don’t secure a first-round playoff bye, they’ll probably be without star wideout Antonio Brown for their first postseason game. Brown is considered unlikely to be available for a potential Wild Card round contest as he recovers from a partially torn calf muscle, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.Antonio Brown (vertical)

While Pittsburgh’s chances of advancing would certainly be reduced without Brown, the Steelers are nearly a lock to get a bye in the first round of the postseason. In fact, a Jaguars loss to the 49ers on Sunday and a Steelers victory over the Texans on Monday would give Pittsburgh a bye. Overall, FiveThirtyEight gives Pittsburgh a 89% chance of locking down a bye for Wild Card weekend.

Brown, 29, leads the NFL in both receptions (101) and yards (1,533) and has scored nine touchdowns on the season. Without him on the field for at least the next two weeks, the Steelers will turn to a bevy of other pass-catching options including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers, and Jesse James.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Partially Tears Calf, Expected Back For The Playoffs

The Steelers suffered a serious injury scare in their stunning defeat at the hands of the Patriots. The league’s best receiver Antonio Brown exited the game in the second quarter and got tests taken at a nearby hospital. Now the team has learned that the 29-year-old has partially torn his calf muscle and is expected to miss at least one week of game action, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, Schefter adds that Brown is likely to be back with the Steelers for the postseason.

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This is great news for a Steelers team that relies on Brown for much of their offensive production. Brown has been performing like a legitimate MVP candidate in 2017, but seemed to have suffered a serious injury when he left today’s game vs. New England. However, while Brown may be unable to finish the regular season, their star playmaker is expected back for postseason football, which puts the Steelers in a much better position moving forward.

Although, the injury could increase the urgency for the first round bye. After dropping today’s game, the Steelers are now in serious danger of losing their top two spot, especially knowing that the Jaguars own the tiebreaker head-to-head.

Head coach Mike Tomlin will have to rely on the team’s other young wideouts, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster, to help offset the loss. You can also expect Le’Veon Bell to shoulder even more of the load in the passing game than he already does. Pittsburgh has two favorable matchups to end the season as the team is set to play Houston and Cleveland in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Brown, Ben

The Browns lost to the rebuilding Jets and are now 0-5 and, more importantly considering where this franchise stands in the NFL, 1-20 since their new power structure began its tenure. Consistent reports of friction between this team’s decision-making parties have come out of Cleveland, and Jimmy Haslam‘s patience may be wearing thin. The Sashi Brown/Paul DePodesta/Hue Jackson arrangement has yet to produce results, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes a league source predicted a major shakeup could come in the event of a Jets defeat. That happened, and the Browns benched starting quarterback DeShone Kizer for 2016 practice squad promotion Kevin Hogan in the process.

Haslam developed a deserved reputation for being impatient, abandoning previous regimes since taking over the Browns. But this one’s unique effort — placing an even greater premium on draft picks, at the expense of short-term results — has been allowed to persist thus far. However, Florio adds the perception by some around the league is the Browns’ obsession with draft picks doubles as a way for management to preach patience for future success — not unlike an MLB team stockpiling cornerstone high school talent and waiting several years for it to surface in the majors — while avoiding immediate responsibility for the on-field product.

With the Browns set to face the Texans and Texans before a Vikings tilt in London. A Patriots date follows that. Florio notes the London game could double as a Jackson firing window while adding the team could take the route the Lions did recently by firing GM Martin Mayhew and keeping coach Jim Caldwell. That would mean siding with Jackson over Brown. For his part, Jackson said postgame there was “no wavering support” from ownership, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (on Twitter).

This franchise’s recent history points to a change happening soon. Here’s more from the AFC North.

  • Regarding Cleveland’s quarterback decision, Jackson did not say who he plans to start in Week 6. The second-year Browns coach indicated (via Nate Ulrich of ohio.com, on Twitter) he needed to watch film to decide between his second-round pick and Hogan, a Chiefs 2016 fifth-round who didn’t make the Kansas City roster out of camp last year. So instead of a Kizer-Deshaun Watson matchup next week, it could be Hogan in command. The Stanford product completed 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns today compared to Kizer’s 8-for-17, 94-yard, one-INT line.
  • Antonio Brown‘s outburst last weekend wasn’t solely motivated by frustrations on the field, with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reporting the All-Pro wide receiver was upset by the Steelers‘ decision to remain in the tunnel for the national anthem instead of allowing players to make protest choices individually. Brown has strongly considered kneeling in protest during the anthem, but Ben Roethlisberger helped steer the team toward the stance of remaining in the entrance tunnel as a group during the anthem. Big Ben missing his top target for a would-be touchdown against the Ravens struck a chord with Brown, per La Canfora, who reports the wideout believed Roethlisberger’s decision not to locate him on that play was related to the two’s anthem-based argument. After a loss to the Jaguars today, Brown was diplomatic, saying (via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com) Roethlisberger was going to “bring the best out of us this week.”
  • Myles Garrett limped off the field in the fourth quarter of the Browns’ 17-14 loss but said he did not re-aggravate the high ankle sprain that kept him out for four weeks, Cabot tweets. The No. 1 overall pick described his ankle as merely being “very sore.”

Steelers Sign Antonio Brown To Extension

The Steelers and Antonio Brown have agreed to an extension, the club announced today. The new deal, which will tie Brown to Pittsburgh through the 2021 season, will make the dynamic wide receiver the highest-paid pass-catcher of all-time.Antonio Brown (vertical)

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The pact will reportedly give Brown four new years worth $68MM, and contains a $19MM signing bonus. Brown’s 2017 base salary has been reduced to a guaranteed $910K, which along with the signing bonus, makes up the only guaranteed portions of the contract.

From there, Brown will earn base salaries of $7.875MM, $12.625MM, $11.3MM, and $12.5MM in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. In 2018, Brown is due a $6MM roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, and 2019, Brown is due a $2.5MM roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year.

Brown has been pushing for a new deal for more than a year now, but the Steelers held firm to their organizational policy of not addressing contracts until they are one year away from expiration. In this round of talks, the Steelers and agent with Drew Rosenhaus were aiming to have a deal done by March 9th. It seems that the deal has been agreed upon with more than a week before the start of free agency.

Currently, Julio Jones leads all wide receivers in terms of total contract value ($71.25MM overall), per-year average ($14.25MM per year), and total guaranteed cash ($35.5MM). After him, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are tied or roughly tied in those categories, with Thomas holding a slight edge in total guaranteed money. Apparently, Brown’s new pact will set the new watermark for the wide receiver position.

Brown, 29 in July, is coming off of his third consecutive first-team All-Pro selection. Last year, Brown finished out with 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 regular season games. As great as that stat line was, Brown has put up even gaudier numbers for Pittsburgh in the past. In 2014, Brown had 129 catches and 1,698 yards with 13 touchdowns. In 2015, he had an eye-popping 136 catches for 1,834 yards and ten touchdowns.

Before the multi-year agreement, Brown was slated to play out 2017 with a $13.6MM cap charge.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com first reported the news of the extension and its basic details (Twitter links). Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link) reported the signing bonus amount. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported the financial specifics of the deal.

Steelers, Antonio Brown Move Towards Deal

The Steelers and Antonio Brown are making significant progress towards a big-money extension, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The goal is for the deal to be completed by March 9th. Antonio Brown (vertical)

If the two sides can agree to terms before the start of free agency, the Steelers will have a better idea of their spending room before dollars start flying.

A new deal for Brown will presumably reset the market for wide receivers, even though it would be an extension one year prior to Brown’s potential entry into free agency. The 28-year-old (29 in July) is the NFL’s best receiver and coming off of his third consecutive first-team All-Pro selection. He has matched or exceeded 100 catches, 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past four seasons. Teams have asked about acquiring Brown via trade, but the Steelers have firmly rejected all overtures.

Currently, Julio Jones leads all wide receivers in terms of total contract value ($71.25MM overall), per-year average ($14.25MM per year), and total guaranteed cash ($35.5MM). After him, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are tied or roughly tied in those categories, with Thomas holding a slight edge in total guaranteed money.

Brown is currently signed through 2017 with a cap charge of roughly $13.6MM.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.