A mere two days after the beginning of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp began in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the team has extended the contract of wide receiver Antonio Brown. After Mike Wallace talks ceased, speculation that Brown would become the number one receiver in the Steelers’ offense seems to have turned into solid gold for the Steelers. According to CBS Sports, the deal keeps Pittsburgh’s most valuable player in 2011 through the 2017 season.
Over the next six seasons, Brown will earn $42 million, according to a league source who shared the information with ESPN insider Adam Schefter. Drafted in 2010 out of Central Michigan, Brown made a statement with his stellar play after fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders was limited due to injury and opponents targeted Wallace with double-team defenses.
Brown became the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,000 return yards (1,062) and at least 1,000 receiving yards (1,108). Brown would have been eligible for restricted free agency after the 2012 season, but the Steelers made it clear that in signing him to an extended contract they want him around and value his play. Brown is a rising star and is expected by many to have a breakout season this year following a 2011 that saw him selected to the Pro Bowl.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told the press, “(Brown) has played a major role in our success over the past two years, and we are thrilled he will be a Steeler for many years to come.”
As a late-day announcement following the first session of training camp open to the public, fans who had become restless and at times unhappy over the no-show of Wallace and news that his agent was no longer in charge but was deferring to his client to make contact with the team were suddenly ecstatic.
Listed as the number four receiver in 2011, Brown moved up the depth chart and was second in receiving yards to Wallace.
“I’m looking forward for (Mike Wallace) to be here, get all hands on deck,” Brown admitted Wednesday to the press, “and get everybody moving in the right direction so we can embark on what we can embark on.”
The fact that Brown was approached by the Steelers organization after Colbert said the Steelers would not talk about any deals with Wallace until the receiver showed up to camp speaks volumes. The Steelers have a history of tough negotiations with veteran holdouts.
Part of the “Young Money Crew”, Brown sailed to the head of the class, and the team, with his new contract extension. His deal will certainly affect how much money the Steelers will be able to offer Wallace, should talks resume, due to the salary cap.
Brown’s first NFL play (regular season game) was the return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown versus the Tennessee Titans on September 19, 2010. Brown’s emergence as a star happened during the playoffs where he caught three passes for 75 yards against division rival Baltimore (Ravens). In the final two minutes of the game, Brown caught a Ben Roethlisberger pass and secured it with one hand by pressing the ball to his helmet. The catch set up the winning touchdown for the Steelers. Roethlisberger found Brown often in the second half of the 2011 season for 51 catches and 846 yards in the final ten games of the season.
According to ESPN‘s John Clayton, Brown will discuss the deal further in Latrobe on Saturday.
- Read more about Brown’s extension in a two-part series by Matthew Marczi.
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