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Antonio Brown Skipping Workouts, May Holdout For New Deal

Image courtesy of Zimbio

Image courtesy of Zimbio

Some very unfortunate news for Steelers Nation, as superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown announced he’d be skipping the first day of voluntary workouts on Monday. And that may very well be the start of what could be a drama-filled summer in the ‘Burgh.

The No. 1 at his position in 2014, Brown finished just two shy of 1,700 yards, and the only wideout in the NFL with more touchdowns last seasons was the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant. That doesn’t even include the addition 300+ yards he adds each season on punt returns.

Brown is going into the fourth year of a six-year contract he signed in 2012, when the Steelers chose to address his contract, rather than that of Mike Wallace, who was holding out of training camp at the time, demanding a new deal of his own. Wallace didn’t get his new contract and played his final season in Pittsburgh that year.

The Steelers aren’t known for negotiating with holdouts, which is what this could end up being. Brown is considering skipping minicamps entirely and has not ruled out doing the same for training camp.

Brown’s contract was back-loaded, meaning that he’s finally coming into his money years starting this season. But according to figures on Sportrac, his $6 million base salary in 2015 will make him the 11th highest paid receiver in the league this year—making less than half of what Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson will earn.

Getting better year-after-year, it’s hard to fault 26-year-old Brown for being smart enough to (at least try) strike while the iron is hot. He is in the prime of his career and coming off his best season to date. And right now he may very well be the best receiver in the NFL.

Brown has got something else going for him too. He’s absolutely beloved in Pittsburgh, having gone out of his way to autograph every single piece of memorabilia sent to him. A promise he made fans last summer. Brown was still signing everything that came his way as of January.

Even though the Steelers have made it a point over the years not to bow to heavy-handed negotiation tactics, exceptions have been made. In 2005 Hines Ward, a similarly beloved figure in Pittsburgh, held out for 15 days of training camp in hopes of striking a new deal.

Ward did get his new contract, but not before ending his holdout and returning to the field. According to ESPN, he “arrived at Heinz Field about two hours before the Steelers’ exhibition against the Eagles and was quickly escorted into the stadium by a team official to watch the game.”

“Six days before the Steelers’ season opener, Ward received a four-year contract extension that included a team-record $10 million signing bonus,” that per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

At this point, it’s almost impossible believe the Steelers would be willing to ruin their relationship with Brown over a salary increase he has quite clearly earned. He was extremely underpaid in the first three years of his contract and deserves the same kind of consideration given to Ward in 2005.

They’ve already proven exceptions can be made, so why not make another one for such an exceptional player. The biggest wildcard in this situation could be Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, who isn’t known to be the most reasonable power-player in the business.

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