Antonio Brown Wants New Deal, Won’t Hold OutBy Jonathon Natsis
Antonio Brown catches a lot of things. Right now, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, the superstar wideout of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been vocal in his observations that he deserves a new contract. On the other, he doesn’t want to test a Steelers front office not exactly known for its tolerance when it comes to player demands.
It seems Brown has consolidated his conundrum by opting to show up for training camp, while pushing for the financials to sort themselves out sooner rather than later.
“I can’t really fight what the rules are,” Brown told reporters on Sunday during Pittsburgh’s first padded practice of 2016. “You have to take care of your guys. If a guy underperforms, you get rid of him. If a guy overperforms, you take care of him.”
And overperform he has. After leading the league in catches to end 2014, there were whispers that Brown would be considering a holdout. With 136 catches and over 1800 receiving yards to his name last season, it seemed a certainty that he would exercise that right this time around. And yet, Brown continues to plod away, confident that he will be “taken care of” without resorting to team-unfriendly tactics.
“The Rooneys have been first class with me since I was 21 or 22 years old,” Brown continued. “I’ve never held out. I’m a first-class guy in any relationship. The first way of getting better is showing up, so I’m always going to be ready to go.”
His comments are refreshing in a modern age of trades, cuts, non-guaranteed money and contracts that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Very often, a holdout is the only tool at a player’s disposal to combat the massive power imbalance held by team owners.
But Brown has also seen what happens when holdouts go wrong. It was former Steeler Mike Wallace who inadvertently gave AB his big chance. Wallace chased the money to Miami, from which point he has worn three different uniforms and been mediocre at best. While he didn’t hold out, Emmanuel Sanders also blew Pittsburgh’s budget with his terms, later signing with Denver and admittedly enjoying a far more successful career in the process.
As it stands, Brown’s $6.25 million salary entering 2016 makes him inarguably the league’s biggest bargain. With training camp already underway and Steelers brass seemingly in no hurry to break tradition, we’ll see if that “honor” still stands by week 1.