It’s that time of year again. Players flexing their muscles, not showing up for workout sessions, trying to get new or better contracts. Antonio Brown is one of them this time, putting pressure on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A team with few offensive weapons, the Steelers really can’t afford to have Brown going into some sort of strike or holdout which usually affects the regular season. The 26-year old wide receiver led the NFL in receptions (129) and receiving yards (1698) last season, also catching 12 passes for a touchdown. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and last season an All-Pro as well.
But Brown is also on a deal that goes through the 2017 season. He’s making $6 million in base salary next season, and that rises to $8.25 million in 2016 and $8.71 million in 2017. But Brown, with two consecutive seasons of 1500 yards or more (1499 in 2013, we’re being generous) wants to be paid like the most productive receiver in the business. He’s looking for an average salary of $10 million and more, which is something nine different receivers are making right now.
Do the Steelers cave? They do have other needs to think about, and they’re about $10 million under the cap. Brown’s cap number is already the third highest on the team behind Roethlisberger and Lawrence Timmons. If Le’Veon Bell keeps on producing the way he has, he’s going to want a massive new deal as well, although running backs find it harder to demand and get the big money.
Right now he’s only missing voluntary workouts, so it’s not such a big deal. But Brown making these moves with three more years on his contract means he’s quite confident in his moves, and is willing to take this even further if the Steelers don’t start listening a bit more carefully to his demands.