Steelers president Art Rooney II said they won’t release WR Antonio Brown, but “all other options are on the table.”
“There’s not much we can do right now; we have time to make a decision,” Rooney said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “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.
“Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year, we’re a long way away from thinking that can happen. We’re not closing the door on anything at this point.”
Rooney went as far to say that it would be “hard to envision” Brown being with the Steelers when they report to training camp in July.
“As we sit here today, it’s hard to envision that,” Rooney said of Brown returning for the 2019 season. “But there’s no sense on closing the door on anything today. There’s snow on the ground. We don’t have to make those decisions right now.”
Chris Mortensen recently reported the expectation now is that Brown is “more likely to be traded” at the start of the 2019 league year in March.
Mortensen mentioned that the cap hit wouldn’t be a big issue for the Steelers, given that they’ll receive a $14 million cap credit from Le’Veon Bell after he sat out the 2019 season.
Adam Schefter added that the Steelers also plan to sign QB Ben Roethlisberger to an extension, which would create additional cap room and make it easier to trade Brown if that’s what they elect to do.
Brown is owed a $2.5 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year, which could work as a deadline of sorts for the Steelers to trade him.
Brown, 30, is a former sixth-round pick of the Steelers back in 2010. He’s currently in the third year of his five-year, $72.71 million contract that included a $19 million signing bonus and stands to make base salaries of $12.625 million and $11.3 million over the next two years of the agreement.
Trading Brown would be really tough for the Steelers, considering that they would take a $21.12 million cap hit by moving him before June 1. After that, the dead money hit drops to $7.04 million with the remainder being carried on their 2020 salary cap.
In 2018, Brown appeared in 15 games for the Steelers and caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns.