Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II recently spoke about disgruntled superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, and his comments were very illuminating. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rooney addressed a number of possibilities surrounding Brown’s future after the player skipped team meetings and practices leading up to the season finale against the Bengals on Dec. 30.
Brown did not play in that game, despite serious playoff implications. His future is murky at best.
Rooney implied that Brown will be gone next season, though he gave himself enough wiggle room to reconcile and suggested that the ball is in Brown’s court when it comes to such a happening. We’ll break down his most interesting comments below.
Brown is not going to be released, that’s for sure
“There’s not much we can do right now; we have time to make a decision,” Rooney said. “We’ll look at all the options. We’re not going to release him, that’s not on the table.
But I will say all other options are on the table.”
Rooney also suggested that the salary cap implications of a trade are not something that will ultimately make the team’s decision for them.
Brown is scheduled to count $22.165 million against the salary cap in 2019, and that number is not significantly reduced even if he is traded. The Steelers would still be on the hook for $21.12 million, the remainder of his initial signing bonus. The organization would save $15.1 million in real money, for what that’s worth.
Rooney says it’s “hard to envision” Brown being at training camp
Rooney did leave open the possibility that the Steelers and Brown could get back on good terms. In addition to Brown wanting to come back, Steelers veterans and leaders would also have to agree on him coming back, as well, according to Rooney.
“That’s one of the questions we have to answer — whether we can get to a point where we all feel good about him being on the roster next year. We have a way to go before we feel good about that.”
According to the report from the Post-Gazette, Brown’s demeanor “has been different from past years.”
That is referring to an incident during a morning walkthrough in which Roethlisberger said that Brown ran the wrong route and wanted to run the play again. Brown yelled an expletive, according to reports, and threw a football at the feet of Roethlisberger, leaving the practice field in a huff.
And finally, when asked whether Brown would participate in training camp in July, Rooney suggested such an idea was hard to picture at the moment, but left the door open for the possibility that might change.
“As we sit here today, it’s hard to envision that,” Rooney said. “But there’s no sense on closing the door on anything today.”
All of this makes it appear as though a trade is the most likely option, though Rooney was non-committal about the possibility.
“I’m not going to use those words,” he said. “All options are on the table. We have two months to go before we can do anything. There’s no sense making the decision now. We’ll see how things play out. Maybe he decides to come talk to us some day and we learn more about where he is. We’ll see.”
A trade certainly seems like where things are headed. Multiple reports have surfaced suggesting the Steelers are already listening to and perhaps submitting their own trade offers about Brown.
Nobody with the team has spoken to him since Dec. 30
Brown has refused to return repeated phone calls from Rooney and head coach Mike Tomlin, per the Post-Gazette report. When he showed up for the Bengals game. Tomlin designated him as inactive for the contest.
Shortly after the interview with Rooney popped up, Brown posted this picture of himself and the team president with the phrase “Good Business #Boomin”.
As for what that picture means, it’s anybody’s guess. He could be implying that what he’s doing now is good business and is including the picture simply to acknowledge Rooney’s comments. Or, it could be taken as Brown suggesting that mending the relationship is the best way to go.