Pittsburgh Steelers Rumors & News

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 Franchise Tag Le’Veon Bell

The Steelers have placed the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Steelers have opted for the exclusive tag, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), which means that no other team can sign him away. The two sides now have until July to hammer out a new contract. If they do not, Bell will play out 2017 on a one-year, ~$12MM deal."<strong

The non-exclusive variant of the tag, which costs the same as the exclusive one, opens the door for another team to sign the player if the original club does not match. When that happens, the team losing the player collects on two first-round picks.

Bell, 25, is arguably the best running back in the NFL. Had he reached unrestricted free agency, Bell probably would have become the highest-paid tailback in the NFL, considering that Adrian Peterson‘s current deal is days away from being terminated.

In 12 games last year, Bell ran for 1,268 yards off of 261 carries (4.9 yards per attempt) and had seven rushing touchdowns. Bell was often utilized as a receiver too, totaling 75 catches for 616 yards and two scores. As if that wasn’t enough, Pro Football Focus gave him the sixth-highest pass blocking grade of any running back in the NFL last year. His overall grade, naturally, was No. 1 amongst RBs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ingram, Johnson To Be Franchise Tagged?

Melvin Ingram and Trumaine Johnson are among the players expected to be franchise tagged between now and March 1, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Schefter also lists Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, Kawann Short as guys who are likely to get the tag. Melvin Ingram (vertical)

While Cousins, Bell, and Short have long been seen as likely franchise candidates, things were less certain when it came to California’s two top free agents. Ingram has racked up 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, but the Chargers have lots of holes to fill and some believed that the team would direct those resources elsewhere. Johnson, meanwhile, is coming off of a so-so season and the Rams will have to pay a surcharge in order to tag him for a second time.

It’s likely that the latest salary cap projection is playing a role in the decisions. It now sounds like the cap will land somewhere between $166MM and $169MM, up from $155.27MM last year. The one-year franchise tenders are expensive, but they are easier to swallow now that all 32 teams will have a little extra room to work with.

Our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings had Ingram as the fourth-best free agent on the board. Johnson was outside of the Top 10 but earned honorable mention.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Dulac: Steelers' Top Offseason Priority Is Pass-Rushing OLB

  • Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the biggest objective for the Steelers this offseason is to find an outside linebacker that can generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Bud Dupree showed some promise down the stretch in 2016, but Jarvis Jones is unlikely to return, and if the club re-signs the ageless James Harrison, Dulac believes it would not make much sense to acquire another veteran free agent OLB. As such, he writes that Pittsburgh could once again address the position in the first round of the draft.

NFL Grants Compensatory Picks To Teams

The NFL announced that they have awarded a total of 32 compensatory picks to 16 different teams. Compensatory draft picks are given to clubs who lose more or better compensatory free agents (CFAs) than it acquires in the previous year. Those picks are slotted within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the free agents lost.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that there are no more than 32 compensatory picks granted each year. Due to that wrinkle, the Rams (one pick), Packers (one pick), Steelers (two picks), and Cardinals (three picks) will not receive those picks in accordance with the formula. Each of those four clubs will receive compensatory selections for other CFAs lost whose final numerical values ranked within the top 32.

This year, there is one notable change to the compensatory draft selection rules: teams can now trade those picks.

Click below for the full rundown: 

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Top 3 Offseason Needs: Pittsburgh Steelers

In advance of March 9, the start of free agency in the NFL, Pro Football Rumors will detail each team’s three most glaring roster issues. We’ll continue this year’s series with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC North with an 11-5 record before falling to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Depth Chart (via Roster Resource)

Pending Free Agents:

Top 10 Cap Hits for 2017:

  1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB: $18,200,000
  2. Antonio Brown, WR: $13,618,334
  3. Maurkice Pouncey, C: $11,051,000
  4. David DeCastro, G: $11,050,000
  5. Cameron Heyward, DL: $10,400,000
  6. Mike Mitchell, S: $8,135,416
  7. Marcus Gilbert, T: $7,308,500
  8. Ladarius Green, TE: $6,187,500
  9. Ramon Foster, G: $3,591,666
  10. Ryan Shazier, LB: $3,025,020


Three Needs:

1. Bring in a new linebacker: The Steelers have a history of developing linebackers, but the two of club’s past three first-round selections at the position haven’t exactly panned out (thus far, at least). Jarvis Jones has been the most obvious failure, as the former 17th overall pick has managed only six sacks over four seasons in Pittsburgh. “Failure” might be too strong a word, as Jones is a capable run defender who probably ranks as an average NFL linebacker. But he’s not the type of edge presence the Steelers were hoping to land with a first-round pick.

Bud Dupree, meanwhile, was chosen two years after Jones, and offered a much different collegiate profile, boasting more natural athleticism but less statistical production. He’s been a bit more productive than Jones during his two years with the Steelers (8.5 sacks from 2015-16), but Dupree has earned far worse marks from Pro Football Focus, grading poorly against both the run and pass. Still only 24 years old, however, Dupree showed marked improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, and should see his snap percentage increase in 2017.James Harrison (vertical)

Jones is a pending free agent and not expected back, but the same can’t be said for fellow free agents James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons, each of whom Pittsburgh is working to re-sign. Harrison is the more likely to return, and it could be a matter of time until the veteran pass rusher formally inks a new deal with the Steelers. General manager Kevin Colbert wants to bring Timmons back into the fold, as well, but admitted the 30-year-old could find better offers on the open market.

If Timmons departs, Pittsburgh could need to find a new inside linebacker to play next to Pro Bowler Ryan Shazier. The club would have at least one internal candidate to fill that role, as Vince Williams put up a decent showing in 2016 on roughly a quarter of the Steelers’ defensive snaps. While Pittsburgh likely won’t invest financial resources to bring in a free agent inside ‘backer (unless it’s someone who can contribute on special teams like Jon Bostic or Audie Cole), a mid-round draft pick on the position isn’t out of the question. LSU’s Kendell Beckwith, Wake Forest’s Marquel Lee, or Michigan’s Ben Gedeon could interest the Steelers on Day 2 or 3.Haason Reddick (Vertical)

While adding an inside linebacker could be an area of focus, bringing in a new edge rusher should be a much higher priority for Pittsburgh this offseason. Indeed, targeting an outside linebacker at pick No. 30 will be a consideration for the Steelers, and perhaps even considered a likely proposition. Nearly every industry mock draft has sent a pass rusher to Pittsburgh, and both Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com agree Temple’s Haason Reddick, who put up 9.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last year, would be a logical fit. Takkarist McKinley (UCLA), Carl Lawson (Auburn), Charles Harris (Missouri), and Tim Williams (Alabama) are among the other prospects that could intrigue Pittsburgh at the end of Round 1.

Free agent pass rushers may also interest the Steelers, although the club is highly unlikely to spend extravagantly to lure a top-notch edge defender such as Melvin Ingram or even Jabaal Sheard — it’s simply not the club’s style. However, Pittsburgh should go bargain-hunting and find another veteran to play alongside Harrison, especially if it doesn’t find what it’s looking for in the draft. Erik Walden and Alex Okafor could make sense on short-term contracts, while longtime NFL pass rusher DeMarcus Ware would also look good in a Steelers uniform.

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Le'Veon Bell Won't Undergo Surgery

  • Although running back Le’Veon Bell visited a doctor last month while dealing with a groin injury, he isn’t planning on surgery, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who adds the pending Steelers free agent would have undergone the procedure by now if it were required. That’s certainly good news for Bell, but it probably won’t make a difference for his contractual status. He’s still expected to be franchised by Pittsburgh, and the tag will pay him north of $12MM.

James Harrison Looking For Two-Year Deal

Pending free agent James Harrison is searching for a two-year deal, his agent Bill Parise told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported yesterday that a new agreement between the Steelers and Harrison could be finalized in “a matter of time,” but Fowler says that talks between the two sides are in fact preliminary.James Harrison (vertical)

[RELATED: Steelers Working To Extend Alejandro Villanueva]

It’s unclear if Pittsburgh is willing to go to two years for Harrison, but they’ve done so in the past — after Harrison came out of retirement prior to the 2014 campaign, he signed a two-year, $2.75MM deal to return to the Steel City. At this point in his career, it seems unlikely Harrison would want to leave the club with which he’s spent all but one year of his 14-season NFL tenure, and Parise tells Fowler that “of course” Harrison prefers to remain with the Steelers.

Harrison, who will be entering his age-39 season, was as effective as ever in 2016, playing on roughly 56% of Pittsburgh’s snaps and grading as the league’s No. 11 edge defender, according to Pro Football Focus. Although he put up five sacks, Harrison’s production wasn’t all in the pass rush, as he scored high marks against the run and ranked as the NFL’s best 3-4 ‘backer in pass coverage.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers, James Harrison Nearing Deal?

The Steelers want to retain veteran edge rusher James Harrison, and “it sounds like a matter of time” before the two sides reach an agreement, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted today after speaking with Harrison’s agent.James Harrison

[RELATED: Steelers Working To Extend Alejandro Villanueva]

Harrison, who will be entering his age-39 season, was as effective as ever in 2016, playing on roughly 56% of Pittsburgh’s snaps and grading as the league’s No. 11 edge defender, according to Pro Football Focus. Although he put up five sacks, Harrison’s production wasn’t all in the pass rush, as he scored high marks against the run and ranked as the NFL’s best 3-4 ‘backer in pass coverage.

The league’s oldest defensive player, Harrison has spent his entire career with the Steelers save for a single-season run with the division rival Bengals in 2013. Despite his contributions to the Pittsburgh defense, Harrison has earned less than $2.5MM total during the past two years. He could be in for a slight raise in 2017, but given his age, and the fact that he’s unlikely to join another club, the Steelers can likely keep Harrison around on the cheap once again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.