The Pittsburgh Steelers typically concern themselves with sticking to their own precedents and principles. While they might pay some mind to the broader trends throughout the NFL, they have a certain way of doing business that they do their best to adhere to as a guiding light through a changing league.
Earlier this offseason, wide receiver Antonio Brown forced them into dangerous territory when he essentially force the front office’s hand, becoming so insubordinate in his behavior—stemming back to the end of the regular season—that they felt they had little choice but to trade him, and for comparatively little in compensation.
According to Jeremy Fowler, this has those in front offices around the league concerned about what message that might send to other players who might feel they are in a similar position, calling it “dangerous” in expecting players to honor their contracts.
Of course, the owners have a much more tenuous relationship with the concept of honoring contracts, as it’s routine year-in and year-out that teams will release veteran players just a year or two into long-term contracts. But that’s not the topic at hand.
“It’s a problem. Other star players see this and might want to do the same”, Fowler quoted one source as saying to him during the week at the annual league meeting. “I know the Steelers had a difficult situation and needed to get rid of him. But they had other options”.
Perhaps they did have other options, but none of them—even the one that they settled on—was particularly good. The only option they realistically had that would have seen him actually play for them again would be if they relented and gave him the money he wanted. With three years left on his contract.
The Steelers likely feel that they did their due diligence with Brown, waiting essentially for months to get in contact with him before key members of the organization literally flew down the Florida to meet with him and discuss the situation, presumably, as rational adults, one of whom just happened to have a blonde mustache.
They determined that their only course of action was to trade him if they could get anything resembling reasonable compensation for him, and they feel they did with the Oakland Raiders, who knew that Brown was sabotaging other potential deals.
“It was a very un-Steeler-like move”.
That is apparently what another source told Fowler regarding the situation. But this was also a very un-Steeler-like situation, and perhaps is a direct product of a new era of professional/celebrity athletes who are more empowered than ever to dictate their future and fortune.
In undertaking this ‘un-Steeler-like move’, the Steelers are hoping to get back to a brand of football and an organizational culture that better represents the Pittsburgh Steelers as they have been known for the past half-century.