Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is one smart cookie on a lot of levels.
By instinct, Steelers fans disdain showboats and the ostentatiousness that comes with it. It began with Art Rooney Sr.’s disdain for “Putting on the dog” and it explains why Dan Rooney was last seen driving a Pontiac and why cheers erupted in when Deion Sanders walked off the field injured after getting rammed by Jerome Bettis during the final game at Three Rivers Stadium.
Antonio Brown arriving in style in his black and gold Rolls Royce. pic.twitter.com/OsAZn7SZce
— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) July 25, 2015
- Pulling up to St. Vincents in a Rolls-Royce is something that would generally not sit well in Steelers Nation especially for a player who is rumored to harbor holdout intentions.
But almost as soon as he stepped out of his Rolls-Royce, Antonio Brown was asked about a potential hold out and he killed two birds with one stone, “Holdouts never go well. Just look at history. It always ends badly. It wouldn’t be the best decision. I make a lot of money. I pull up to camp in Rolls-Royces.”
- It says here that Antonio Brown is grossly underpaid for his performance on the field compared to his peers.
Brown knows that. He also seems to know that the Steelers don’t renegotiate contracts until a player is entering his final year remaining. And he realizes the Steelers don’t negotiate with players who refuse to honor their contracts. Finally, he’s smart enough to understand that if Dan Rooney didn’t bend for Franco Harris, he’s not going to bend for Antonio Brown.
Brown is one player who is unquestionably out preforming his contract but who nonetheless is doing and saying all right things. Good for Antonio Brown. Now the Pittsburgh Steelers must do their part.
Steelers Must Guarantee Balance Brown’s Contract
Three summers ago Mike Wallace was another player who was out performing his contract, and he made no attempt to conceal his unhappiness. He held out. Without blinking an eye, the Steelers pivoted and offered the money they had earmarked for Wallace to Antonio Brown, taking the unprecedented step of giving a second contract to a 2nd year player.
- The Steelers took a real risk in giving almost 42 million to a player who’d only officially started 3 games.
Brown has since vindicated the faith the Steelers placed him. In fact, he’s vindicated that faith several times over. Clearly, Brown is one of the top 5 wide receivers in the NFL, yet his salary doesn’t remotely approach that level. But the Steelers will not and should not re-negotiate Brown’s contract now. To do so would open a Pandora’s Box.
- But the Pittsburgh Steelers must still show good faith.
To show good faith the Steelers should guarantee the rest of Antonio Brown’s contract. According to the site Over the Cap, Antonio Brown will earn base salaries of 6 million dollars in 2015, 8.25 million dollars in 2016, and 8.71 million dollars in 2017.
The Steelers should step forward and commit to paying Antonio Brown every penny of the final three years of his contract. While the move would still leave Brown underpaid compared to contemporaries like the Calvin Johnsons of the league, guaranteeing Brown’s contract would be far more than a symbolic gesture.
- By guaranteeing Brown’s contract, the Steelers would be making an unequivocal commitment to one of their top three players.
The Steelers made an extremely shrewd choice when they picked Brown in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. While Brown must still earn this distinction, if he plays the bulk of his career in Pittsburgh, he’ll certainly surpass Hines Ward, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth in the hierarchy of great Steelers wide receivers.
Truth be told, you could already make a strong argument “that Antonio Brown is a better receiver than Ben Roethlisberger is a quarterback. Keep the offensive line healthy and then factor Le’Veon Bell into the equation and the Steelers offense becomes nearly unstoppable.
By guaranteeing Antonio Brown’s contract, the Steelers would be giving an iron clad commitment that, even if he should suffer a catastrophic injury, Pittsburgh will stand by him. The life of an NFL player is fleeting. Guarantees are few and far between for that very reason.
But Antonio Brown has earned it. The Steelers should guarantee the final three years of his contract.