If Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is lobbying hard to push the front office in the direction of working out a long-term extension this season, then he isn’t showing it in public, as his recent conversation with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN suggests.
Having recently been eliminated from Dancing With the Stars, it will soon be back to football for Brown, who last season missed some early voluntary workouts that raised some eyebrows for those suspecting he might hold out. He eventually had $2 million in base salary from the 2016 season forwarded into 2015 and converted to a signing bonus.
The only comment regarding an extension that Brown offered to Fowler was that it would be “an honor”, but it would also be incredibly rare, because the All-Pro wide receiver still has two years left on his contract, and such extensions are typically reserved for quarterbacks. Even Ben Roethlisberger’s most recent extension came with just one year left on his contract.
His concern, instead, is, as Fowler writes, “re-establishing rhythm and timing with Ben Roethlisberger over the next month”, as the minicamp and OTA season is just over the horizon. And Brown will be there, of course, along with all of his other teammates as they strive “toward one goal”.
What he did say is what he has long said: “I always want to be a Steeler for life”. The Steelers were the team that took a chance on him as an underclassman in the sixth round in 2010, and by year two he was already making Pro Bowls and NFL history. He has slowly but surely begun to re-write the franchise’s record books in each subsequent season.
Referencing his contract status and compensation, he simply said, “we will let those things take its course”, adding, “my focus right now is to show up and become the best player”. Which many will argue, of course, that he already is. But he believes he can be better, and that he will be better, and that his experience on the dance floor will only serve him well.
Regarding his dance training, he said that it “can definitely help me with football, change of direction, fluidly, constantly being ready for the next move”. And he wouldn’t be the first Steelers wide receiver to famously dabble in dance while crediting that experience with translating well on the football field.
“Dancing is all about the next move”, Brown said, “being prepared for the next move in the midst of any move. It will definitely help with ankle strength, pushing off, change of direction”. His short-area quickness already makes him one of the most feared threats with the football in space, either as a receiver or as a returner. Strengthening that element of his game should have defenders worrying.
But while he may sound the bell of the team player, one wonders what his agent might be conveying to the front office. After parlaying $2 million from 2016 into last season, Brown’s base salary this year is a mere $6.25 this season, a pittance for a player of his caliber. Don’t be surprised if the same takes a similar approach as last year as he bides his time for that sought-after long-term extension.