Let the contract talk and posturing games begin.
In case you are just waking up, you should know by now that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is absent from the start of the team’s offseason workout program as he apparently wants a new contract even though he has three years left on the one he signed in July of 2012.
Being as Brown is arguably the league’s best receiver right now after registering 239 total catches and 3,141 receiving yards over the course of the last two seasons, his decision to threaten to hold out for a new deal probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. It’s the side of the business that most fans hate and many likely believe that a player should fully honor his contract until asking for more money. In Brown’s defense, NFL players have to strike when the iron is red hot as there is no guarantee that they will see a new contract worth bigger money down the road.
Brown is currently scheduled to earn $ 6 million in 2015 and if you look at the yearly average of his current deal (8.392 million), you will, see that he ranks 14th league-wide at the wide receiver position. Even his former teammate Mike Wallace is ranked much higher than him with an average of $12 million.
While several of you might be wanting the Steelers to trade Brown now that he’s looking for a bigger deal, I can almost guarantee you that’s not going to happen. In addition to that, if Brown thinks he’s going to get a new deal without first reporting to the team at some point, he better think again as the Steelers just don’t conduct business that way.
Remember what happened with Hines Ward back in 2005? While Ward initially kept his promise that he wouldn’t show up to training camp that year without a new contract in place, he eventually reported prior to the team’s first preseason game after the Steelers agreed to continue contract talks with him. Ward eventually signed a new five-year contract worth $27.5 million that September.
The fact that Ward only had one year remaining on his deal at the time versus Brown now having three left on his probably doesn’t amount to anything. It is what it is.
So what does the future hold for Brown and his current threat? You should be prepared for the former sixth-round draft pick to not be around for quite a while. It’s really that simple. The team can’t fine Brown until the mandatory minicamp begins, so consider that the next key date in this standoff. Being subject to fines didn’t result in Wallace showing up for minicamp a few years ago, however, so the team might not see Brown again until even later in the offseason, and like Ward, he might decide to skip training camp. Be prepared for it.
Brown will make his statement as so many others have done in the past, but I do believe he will be with the team come the start of the 2015 season. If indeed he decides to stay away until after training camp breaks, it certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a positive, but I trust that he’ll keep himself in top-notch shape until then.
If it sounds like I’m defending Brown’s actions, that’s not my attempt. Instead, I’ve learned over the years to hate the contract game and not the player. Like the rest of you, I hate to see this happen, but at the same time I understand why it does. Hopefully you do as well.