Antonio Brown

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 (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, 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 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)

[RELATED: Follow Pro Football Rumors On Twitter]

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 first reported the news of the extension and its basic details (Twitter links). Jeremy Fowler of (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 (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.

Steelers Notes: Brown, Bell, Timmons, Jones

The Steelers have a number of to-do items on their offseason docket, and today general manager Kevin Colbert addressed the media with a focus on what Pittsburgh plans on doing over the next few months. Let’s take a look at the highlights from Colbert’s press conference, courtesy of Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • Stating that he wants both wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell to remain Steelers for life, Colbert said the club has opened extension talks with Brown, the only player with whom Pittsburgh has discussed a new deal, according to Dulac. Brown is signed through 2017 with a cap charge of roughly $13.6MM, while Bell is an unrestricted free agent but will likely be retained via the franchise tag. Colbert specifically called reaching a new contract with Brown an offseason “priority,” although a recent report indicated that talks between the two sides will move slowly.
  • Re-signing veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons could also be in the cards for the Steelers, but negotiations with Timmons won’t be as cut-and-dry as talks with Brown and Bell. “Would you like to have him stay? Absolutely,” Colbert said. “Does it all fit? We can make it work, but at what cost? He’s never been a free agent. I’d like to see him finish his career here and he would too.” Timmons, 30, has spent a decade in Pittsburgh, and is coming off a 78-tackle, 2.5-sack season.
  • The Steelers aren’t counting on former second-round cornerback Senquez Golson, who has missed his first two seasons in the NFL with injury, for anything more than potential depth. “I’m a little more apprehensive,” said Colbert. “Just from sitting out two years, where you haven’t played at all, it’s not real easy to just step out there and catch up.” As such, Colbert said Pittsburgh could consider selecting a cornerback in this year’s draft.
  • Because Golson is a question mark, the Steelers could be open to re-signing cornerback Justin Gilbert, who was released last week, tweets Dulac. Gilbert has become a massive draft bust since being selected eighth overall in 2014, and played only 11 defensive snaps last season. He’s still just 25 years old, however, and would make for an interesting (if uninspiring) depth peice.
  • Despite reports of a possible retirement, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return in 2017, and the Steelers hope to re-sign backup signal-caller Landry Jones, as well, as Dulac writes. “We’d like to have Landry stay in the mix,” Colbert said. “Will we add a guy? Absolutely. When? It’s hard to say. Sooner or later we will have to address that.” If Pittsburgh doesn’t view Jones as the long-term replacement for Roethlisberger, the club could look to draft a QB at some point.

AFC Notes: Smith, Tyrod, Cutler, Steelers

Already under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place last Saturday, Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith is now on the NFL’s radar, writes Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “We are looking in to the matter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told McDonald in an email Tuesday. Smith has been serving a substance abuse suspension since November 2015 and has a chance to gain reinstatement in March, but the league could push back its decision or even hand him an indefinite ban as a result of his latest off-field issue, per McDonald.

Elsewhere in the AFC…

  • If the Bills move on from quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they should sign soon-to-be released Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler to replace him, opines Bill Barnwell of in a piece focusing on potential offseason moves in the AFC East. Tony Romo or Jimmy Garoppolo are more appealing choices, Barnwell acknowledges, but he doesn’t expect the former to sign in Buffalo (if the Cowboys cut him) or the Patriots to trade the latter within the division. If those two are unattainable, the draft could be an option, though Barnwell argues that the Bills shouldn’t reach for a QB with the 10th overall pick. That would leave Cutler as the most logical solution. Not only would he come on a short-term deal, but he’d reunite with new Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Cutler played under Dennison in Denver and has spoken highly of him in the past.
  • Speaking of Taylor, the Browns’ hiring of his former quarterbacks coach, David Lee, increased the passer’s odds of ending up in Cleveland, contends Mary Kay Cabot of Taylor, who’s on the Browns’ “radar,” played under Lee in Buffalo the past two seasons and fared respectably in his first 29 games as a starter. The former Baltimore backup would replace Robert Griffin III, whom Cabot expects the Browns to release before his roster bonus is due March 11.
  • The Steelers’ contract talks with wide receiver Antonio Brown and linebacker Lawrence Timmons don’t figure to move quickly, tweets CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who expects running back Le’Veon Bell to be their biggest priority. Unlike Brown, who has another year on his deal, both Timmons and Bell could become free agents next month. Bell is clearly the more valuable of the two, of course, and the Steelers will place the franchise tag on the runner if they’re unable to re-sign him.

Steelers In Talks With Brown, Timmons

A report earlier this month stated that the Steelers and wide receiver Antonio Brown had already begun contract extension talks, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that those discussions just began Monday. The Steelers have also opened dialogue with linebacker Lawrence Timmons, La Canfora adds (Twitter link).

Lawrence Timmons (vertical)

Unlike Brown, who has another year on his contract, the Steelers are in imminent danger of losing Timmons. The soon-to-be 31-year-old could depart the organization via free agency as early as next month, but Pittsburgh clearly wants to re-sign the longtime stalwart.

Timmons is fresh off his 10th NFL season, all of which have been spent in Pittsburgh, and continued to fill the stat sheet with 114 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble in his sixth straight 16-start season. Timmons, who hasn’t missed a game since 2009, also played 92.9 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps, though Pro Football Focus wasn’t impressed with his work. The site placed him just 70th in overall performance among 87 qualified linebackers.

On the other hand, there’s no arguing with Brown’s production. The 28-year-old is arguably the league’s top receiver, having earned his third consecutive first-team All-Pro nod in 2016. Brown has matched or exceeded 100 catches, 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, and he could become the league’s highest-paid wideout as a result. He’s due to make $4.71MM salary and count $13.618MM against the Steelers’ cap in the final year of his contract in 2017, but there’s optimism he and the club will hammer out a new deal before training camp. Unsurprisingly, then, Pittsburgh has told rival teams that it’s not making Brown available via trade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rival Clubs Asked About Antonio Brown Trade

Several NFL clubs recently asked the Steelers if wide receiver Antonio Brown was available via trade, but those inquires were met with an emphatic “no,” according to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report.Antonio Brown (vertical)

[RELATED: Steelers Open To Re-Signing James Harrison]

While rival teams were likely just doing due diligence, there was at least some reason to think Pittsburgh might be open to dealing Brown given his recent pattern of — as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin deemed them — “little annoyances.” Brown infamously broadcast a portion of Tomlin’s post-game speech on Facebook Live last month, while Ben Roethlisberger and former Steeler Heath Miller have reportedly addressed problems with Brown in the past.

Still, Pittsburgh doesn’t figure to part with Brown anytime soon, and Freeman writes that any potential trade would require a minimum of a first-round pick (though it’s unclear if Freeman is reporting or speculating here). Indeed, the Steelers have opened extension talks with Brown after previously following their policy of not negotiating with players who have more than one year left on their contract. At present, Brown is signed through 2017, and will earn a base salary of $4.71MM and carry a salary cap charge of ~$13.6MM.

Brown, 28, earned his third consecutive first team All-Pro nod in 2016 after putting up 106 receptions for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers, Antonio Brown Begin Extension Talks

The Steelers and superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown have opened contract extension talks, reports Jeremy Fowler of Brown is set to enter the final year of his deal in 2017, though he and the Steelers are optimistic about reaching a new agreement well before training camp, a source told Fowler.

Antonio Brown

The 28-year-old Brown is fresh off his fourth straight 100-catch campaign and could push to become the NFL’s highest-paid receiver as a result. A.J. Green of the division-rival Bengals currently paces the league’s wideouts in annual salary ($15MM), while Super Bowl-bound Falcons standout Julio Jones leads the pack in guaranteed money ($35.5MM). Without an extension, Brown will play 2017 on a $4.71MM salary and count $13.618MM against the Steelers’ salary cap.

An extension is clearly the goal, though, as Brown told ESPN’s First Take on Friday that he’d like to spend the rest of his career in Pittsburgh (Twitter link via Fowler). That came after Steelers president Art Rooney II said Tuesday that Brown is “certainly a player that we would like to have on the team for a while.” Rooney also brushed off Brown’s behind-the-scenes issues – including his decision last month to broadcast head coach Mike Tomlin‘s fiery speech after the Steelers’ divisional-round win over the Chiefs on Facebook – as “little annoyances.”

It’s easy to see why the Steelers are willing to put up with “little annoyances” from Brown: Since they selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, the 5-foot-10, 181-pounder has hauled in 632 receptions and 50 touchdowns in just 101 games. Brown has also exceeded the 1,100-yard plateau five times – including a ridiculous 1,834-yard showing in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Expect Ben Roethlisberger To Return

Although quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hinted last week that he may have thrown his last NFL pass, Steelers president Art Rooney II expects the five-time Pro Bowler to return in 2017.

Ben Roethlisberger

“I talked to Ben and we had a good conversation,” Rooney told reporters, including Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on Tuesday. “I think he’s at that stage in his career that those are thought I think you have. I personally expect that he’ll be back, but that’s going to be his decision.”

With the offseason approaching, the Steelers unsurprisingly want an answer from the 34-year-old Roethlisberger sooner than later, per Rooney, who noted that “if he decided to retire, that would modify our plans greatly.” Even if Roethlisberger comes back for a 14th year, the Steelers seem intent on drafting a quarterback – something they haven’t done since they selected pending free agent Landry Jones in the fourth round in 2013.

“In terms of just going forward, look, I think the quarterback position is a position you have to make sure you have some depth there, and we haven’t drafted a quarterback for several years, and we’re probably due to look at the position,” stated Rooney.

Pittsburgh is slated to pick seven times – including 30th overall – in this year’s draft, which might feature one of the worst quarterback classes in recent memory. But regardless of who lines up under center for the Steelers in the coming years, he’ll likely have superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown in the fold as his No. 1 target. While Brown has caused some issues behind the scenes, the four-time 100-catch man is “certainly a player that we would like to have on the team for a while,” per Rooney. Brown is scheduled to enter a contract year, but the Steelers could make him the league’s highest-paid wideout via an extension sometime this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Should the Browns‘ newly assembled power structure consult the team’s franchise player about a plan for the No. 1 overall pick, Joe Thomas would not use it on a quarterback. Going into his 11th year, the perennial All-Pro left tackle would rather see his team use the selection to bolster the pass rush.

I think you need to get a pass-rusher,” Thomas said on the Dan Patrick Show today (via Pat McManamon of “… You gotta be careful reaching for a quarterback at No. 1 because if they fail, they don’t help your team at all. Whereas if you pick a defensive lineman and maybe they don’t live up to the hype, you can still find a place to get him on the field and to have an impact. We need guys that can come in and start and that can contribute.”

Thomas, who has two years left on his Browns deal and will turn 33 during the 2017 season, said in the past the Browns need to identify a franchise quarterback. There isn’t a better spot to do that than the No. 1 pick. But this quarterback class — fronted by Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and Cleveland-area product Mitch Trubisky — has divided scouts. The Browns have been reportedly coveting Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett at No. 1 and considering a Watson pick at No. 12. But obviously, the versatile Clemson talent is no lock to be there when Cleveland’s second first-round window opens, given quarterback prospects’ rises as drafts near.

Here’s more from northeast Ohio and some other regions housing AFC North franchises.

  • Jamie Collinsfour-year, $50MM extension will pay $37.5MM in its first three years before containing no guaranteed money during the 2020 season, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets. Collins will also receive a $5MM signing bonus as part of the deal (per Howe, on Twitter) which includes $26.5MM guaranteed.
  • Negotiations between the Ravens and UFA nose tackle Brandon Williams have not yet begun but are expected to commence before he hits the market, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun notes. Even before Zach Orr‘s retirement, Williams was set to be the top priority, per Preston, for a Ravens team that’s lost numerous talents in free agency in recent years. It’s a big year for free agent defensive tackles, with Dontari Poe and Kawann Short residing as impending UFAs.
  • The Ravens tied up some loose ends on their coaching staff today, per the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zreibec (on Twitter). Chris Hewitt will take over new Bills DC Leslie Frazier‘s position as secondary coach, and Mike MacDonald will assist him, Zreibec tweets. Craig Ver Steeg, a nine-year Ravens offensive assistant, will coach quarterbacks, will slide over from skill-position assistance to helping QBs coach/OC Marty Mornhinweg with the signal-callers, Zreibec notes (on Twitter). Drew Wilkins will serve as the assistant defensive line coach. Each of these staffers’ assignment changes represents an internal promotion.
  • The Steelers could determine another year with Ladarius Green is too risky, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes. Green will enter his sixth season after experiencing a disastrous fifth, playing in just six games. However, he averaged 50.7 yards per game and made several big plays when healthy. But concussion issues dogged Green to the point Mike Tomlin said a decision needs to be made about the tight end. “I don’t have an assessment, long-term, of where he is,” Tomlin said. “I think that’s one of the chief medical decisions and questions that we have to have moving forward, in terms of guys getting an assessment of their overall health and what it means for 2017.” A Green cut will cost the Steelers $3.56MM in dead money while saving the team barely $2MM. Green said earlier this week he does not intend to retire.
  • Antonio Brown‘s constant desire for targets has rubbed many teammates the wrong way, but his occasionally selfish ways aren’t viewed as detrimental to the team, Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette writes. Ben Roethlisberger has told the All-Pro wideout to “shut up” multiple times on the field, and since-retired tight end Heath Miller told Brown to “stop complaining about not getting the ball” at a 2015 practice. However, Dulac notes Brown not a problem in the locker room. This could be a key point as Brown’s payday looms.