The Pittsburgh Steelers have somehow managed to be the talk of the NFL even though they are not even playing right now, while eight other teams are. While a team that is not even participating in the postseason shouldn’t be pulling down all the headlines, that pretty much comes with the territory when you have one of the most high-profile players in the game going AWOL and having the discussion revolve around whether or not he will have to be traded from a flagship franchise.
That is big dadgum news, which is why it’s everywhere, and why we’re not going to apologize for covering it extensively. This is what is going on with the team right now, as sad as it is, but acting like it’s not happening isn’t going to solve anything.
Which is exactly why we suddenly got a chance to hear from team president Art Rooney II, who spoke with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday on the topic of Brown, and I thought it would be useful to provide a recap about what we learned from him.
Releasing Brown Is Not An Option: Rooney made it clear that the team is not considering the possibility of releasing Brown, though this was never very likely anyway. It’s not as though it would be difficult for them to find some trade value for him.
Trading Brown Is An Option: While not a surprise, this is the first official confirmation that we have had of this possibility. Rooney did not come out and say it, but he did say that “all other options are on the table” outside of releasing him. Trading falls under that massive umbrella.
Brown Has Not Had Official Contact With The Team Since The End Of The Season: Dulac confirmed, while not quoting Rooney directly, that Brown has not had any official contact with the team since the season finale. He has not returned repeated phone calls from Rooney, Mike Tomlin, and teammates.
Dead Money Is Not An Obstacle For A Trade: The Steelers will have nearly the same cap hit whether Brown is on the roster or not, which makes a trade much less palatable than it could be. But that wouldn’t prevent Rooney from signing off on a trade if it was in the team’s best interest. “If we decide something has to be done, we’ll figure out how to deal with that”, he said.
Rooney Is In No Rush To Make A Decision: Rooney repeatedly throughout the interview stressed that there is plenty of time for this situation to unfold. No trade can even become official for over two months, so any number of things can happen between now and then. “There’s no sense in making this decision now”, he told Dulac.
He’s Also Not Happy With Brown: You can tell by his tone that he is displeased with his star player. “Maybe he decides to come talk to us some day and we learn more about where he is”, Rooney said. “We’ll see”. You don’t say something like that with a smile on your face.
Rooney Will Hear From His Team Before Making A Decision: He told Dulac that that is one of the questions that needs to answered, “whether we can get to a point where we all feel good about him being on the roster”. The fact that that’s even a question tells you the locker room is not thrilled with Brown.
Rooney Believes This Has Been Building Up: “My belief is there’s more to it than an incident one day at practice”, he said. Which is why he wants to speak to Brown about “what it was and how it got to this point”. This leaves open some wiggle room for understanding on the team’s part for their star receiver and the possibility of working to address mutual concerns.