If he stays on his current pace, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will have a new career high in receiving yardage in 2015. Additionally, while his current pace of receptions for the season is just short of the 129 that he had in 2015, it would be the third-best in a single season in NFL history. In other words, Brown undoubtedly will want to be paid like the league’s best receiver starting next season and you can’t blame him one bit for that.
Being as Brown is currently under contract through the 2017 season and judging by the comments made prior to the 2015 season by general manager Kevin Colbert, it looks like we’re headed for an interesting offseason.
“Players sign contracts, we expect them to honor those until there’s a year left,” said Colbert in an August interview on Trib Live Radio. “The only time we’ve gone away from that is with the quarterbacks and we’ve been consistent about going to them with two years left, except for Ben [Roethlisberger] this year. You know, Ben didn’t do his until he had one year left.”
Unless Colbert reverses course from his August comments regarding Brown’s contract, the former sixth-round draft pick won’t get a contract extension until after the 2016 season.
In order to appease Brown this past offseason, the Steelers turned $2 million of the $8.25 million that he was scheduled to earn in 2016, along with $5 million of the base salary he was scheduled to earn in 2015, into a signing bonus. That resulted in Brown earning $8 million this year, which is still way under his market value.
Because Brown was paid forward in 2015, he’s now scheduled to earn just $6.25 million in 2016 and there’s just no way he’ll be willing to play for that.
In my opinion, the Steelers will really only have two options during the offseason with Brown and the first one includes them breaking tradition and giving him a lucrative long term extension with a new money yearly average of $15 million or more. The second option would include the Steelers again paying Brown forward a portion of his scheduled $8.71 million 2017 base salary as a signing bonus during the upcoming offseason. That option, however, would likely include most of that 2017 base being turned into a signing bonus and even then, Brown still wouldn’t be earning $14 million in 2016.
Lost in that second option above, however, is the fact that Brown’s 2017 signing bonus amortization amount would likely be more than $8 million and that’s only if the Steelers chose not to turn any of his scheduled 2016 base salary into a signing bonus in addition to that large chunk of his 2017 scheduled base salary in order to help control his 2016 cap charge. In other words, Brown’s 2017 signing bonus amortization amount could be upwards of $11 million in order for the Steelers to pay him $13.96 million in 2016 and only have his currently scheduled cap charge next year jump another $1.23 million.
“The Steelers have been very consistent with how they do business before I got here, after I got here,” Colbert said back in August.
Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Colbert and the Steelers handle Brown and his contract during the offseason and keep in mind that Drew Rosenhaus represents the player in question.
You can bet that I’ll be posting more about this once the 2015 season is over.