The Pittsburgh Steelers have no plans to release disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown, but owner Art Rooney II doesn't envision him being with the team when players report to training camp in July. Once again, after dealing with the Le'Veon Bell contract situation for two years and finally moving on from him, the Steelers are embroiled in yet another conflict with a star skill-position player that might drag on.
Brown skipped practices and team meetings and didn't answer phone calls from Rooney, head coach Mike Tomlin or teammates leading up to the regular-season finale.
"All options are on the table", Rooney said.
"That has to be taken into consideration", Rooney told the Post-Gazette of cap implications, "but, as I sit here today, I'm not going to say that's going to box us into anything".
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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) looks on during warm-ups before the Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. He also said the team is not closing the door on the possibility of smoothing things over with Brown, but he is not optimistic that will happen. He is owed $22,165,000 against the cap next season and due a $2.5 million bonus on March 17.
Beyond that, Rooney said the team is leaving all of its options open regarding Brown, which would mean the team will likely have to attempt to trade him. There's no sense making the decision now.
With the team scraping every penny together to find cap room to finally address some obvious deficiencies on defense since the loss of Ryan Shazier 13 months ago, throwing $21 million down the drain by moving on from Brown might not be an immediate option the Steelers are interested in navigating.