PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun contract talks with star receiver Antonio Brown.
A source says optimism exists that both sides could complete a deal well before training camp. Asked this week on the Dan Patrick Show about the contract, Brown said both sides are “beginning to get it rolling” and he wants to finish his career as a Steeler.
“That’s my plan,” said Brown, who will be 29 in July.
The Steelers are generally willing to negotiate with key players entering the final years of their contracts, but those negotiations can happen at various times. Brown has one year left on a six-year deal that pays him $4.71 million in 2017. Before the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Steelers restructured Brown’s contract by moving up money from future years. These tactic earned Brown about $10 million in advance money.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is the league’s highest-paid receiver at $15 million per year, with three others — Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant, Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas and Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones — in the $14-million-per-year range on long-term deals.
Brown, the first player since Marvin Harrison to record four consecutive 100-catch seasons, made headlines for the wrong reasons last month when he broadcast a Steelers’ post-game locker room scene on Facebook Live. The broadcast caught coach Mike Tomlin’s profanity-laced message after a playoff win at Kansas City.
Brown has remained apologetic for the judgment lapse. But his image appeared to take a hit, with some in the media calling for Brown to be traded.
Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey came out in Brown’s defense this week on Instagram. “Can’t hold my tongue anymore tired of all the hate, bull— stories!!” Pouncey posted. “AB is a team player loved by all his teammates especially ME! You against him you against me!”