More drama on the Antonio Brown front. The Steelers asked the disgruntled wide receiver to delay his $2.5MM roster bonus, which is slated for March 17 and set to be paid in installments throughout next season. However, Brown declined, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.
The Steelers want to delay the bonus for cap purposes, per Florio, who adds they may well be expecting Brown’s next team to actually pay this bonus rather than them. However, if Brown is still on Pittsburgh’s roster by St. Patrick’s Day, the $2.5MM goes against the Steelers’ cap.
Brown declining could be expected, given his actions this offseason. He tweeted he and the Steelers agreed a trade would be best for all parties, and Kevin Colbert said that will, indeed, be the goal, though only if it benefits the team. Having played with future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger throughout his career, Brown understandably wants to land with a team that employs a quality quarterback. He also seeks a new contract, but Florio notes the mercurial wideout has not ruled out agreeing to play for another team without having a new deal in place. In that case, Brown would expect a new contract to be agreed to before the season.
The Steelers will have to eat $21MM-plus in dead money with this trade, but that number rises to north of $23MM after March 17. They currently hold $16.3MM in cap space. A source told Florio the payment of this $2.5MM bonus would become a point of contention between the Steelers and other teams during trade talks. Brown is under the impression his bonus will arrive March 17.
“Why wouldn’t they not trade me? They gotta pay me $2.5MM on March 17,” Brown said, via ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington. “If I invoice you March 17, $2.5MM that you gotta pay me, would you pay it or would you get somebody else to pay it? So it’s what — pretty much what’s good for their business.”
Despite Brown being at the center of the drama that has unfolded in Pittsburgh this offseason, he does not believe this unraveling is his fault. again appearing to cite Roethlisberger’s November criticism of his play as a reason this situation fell apart.
“I don’t take any blame,” Brown said, via Darlington. “I just think I took responsibility for my situation. You know, I didn’t point the finger; I didn’t make no one look bad; I didn’t throw no stones at anyone.”
This has gotten to be quite the complex rift, though Brown has fired most of the salvos. After the practice incident before Week 17, Brown skipped meetings and walkthroughs and ignored Mike Tomlin‘s attempts to reach him before attempting to suit up against the Bengals only to be denied that opportunity. Brown told Darlington that Tomlin told him to “go home” during the lead-up to Week 17 after informing the coach he was sore. This differs from Tomlin’s explanation of the events.
Brown also told Darlington he and Roethlisberger did not work out independently during offseasons and believes the relationships he had with Big Ben and Steelers brass should have be more substantial than they are.
“Criticism really is a part of the job, you know what I’m saying? I answer criticism with achievement,” Brown said. “But, you know, and the professional level is, like, yo, like, if I’m your guy, make me know I’m your guy. But don’t say I’m your guy and then point the finger. Don’t say I’m your guy and then don’t throw me the ball the whole first quarter.
“I would’ve liked for me and Ben to be cool. You know what I mean? I thought we was cool. But when I think … I’ve been to his house one time. He’s been to my house one time. You know what I mean? We don’t work out in the offseason. You think that’s winning? That’s not winning.”
The Jets, Raiders, Redskins and Titans have been the teams now connected to Brown. Prior to the Combine, the 49ers were on the radar. They may re-emerge, but not much has transpired on this front as of late.
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