Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff WriterClose
- ESPN staff writer
- Previously a college football reporter for CBSSports.com
- University of Florida graduate
Brown tweeted that both sides “agreed that it is time to move on.”
Had a great meeting with Mr.Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin pic.twitter.com/DEgURchvhW
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 19, 2019
Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus joined the meeting, as did Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and executive Omar Khan, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The meeting was cordial and “everyone agreed the trade will be for the best,” a source told Schefter.
Rooney told reporters last month that he wanted to hear directly from Brown on what went wrong.
Brown, who first requested a trade in late January, tweeted it was a “great meeting” and that he and Rooney “cleared the air on several issues.”
Rosenhaus told ESPN’s NFL Live that he doesn’t have permission to talk to other teams or work on a trade and that the “whole trade effort” is being run by the Steelers.
“They have the ability to talk to other teams right now and find the best deal for them,” Rosenhaus told ESPN. “We hope they get a great amount of compensation. We want everybody to win here. it would be great for the Steelers to get what they deem fair compensation for Antonio, and for Antonio to find a new team at this point. And we reap all the positives from that. So that is where it is.”
The tweet followed an Instagram video posted by Brown, who said he’s not playing without more guaranteed money and reinforced his desire to be traded by the Steelers.
“If your squad out there want to win and your squad want a hungry wide receiver who’s the best in the whole world, someone hit my phone,” Brown said into his phone camera while working on an elliptical. “Tell them I ain’t doing no unguarantees. I ain’t even gonna play myself no more for this NFL, you heard.”
Brown has no more true guarantees left on his current deal. The five-year, $72.7 million extension he signed in 2017 includes base salaries of $12.625 million, $11.3 million and $12.5 million. Those relatively modest numbers are considered a selling point in a trade. Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, but the Steelers could avoid payment by trading or releasing him before that date.
NFL contracts can be reworked, so Brown can ask a new team to convert salaried money into guarantees — a strategy the Steelers used twice with Brown in the past, converting future money into a signing bonus. But teams hold the power since he’s under contract. Brown’s only true leverage is threatening to hold out.
Rosenhaus told ESPN that “Antonio was clear about what he’s looking for” and this is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for another football team.”
Brown turns 31 in July, and the Steelers are making receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster a focal point of the offense. The team would take on $21.12 million in dead money by releasing or trading Brown but would offset that money by saving on his $22.165 million salary-cap figure for 2019.
Brown, who said he’d like to be known as “Mr. Big Chest” from now on, remains unfazed.
“I think I done done everything. What y’all think? What’s left for me to do?” Brown said. “Win a Super Bowl? Hey, gotta be the right team for that, right? Who wants smoke? I’ve got a lot of fuel built up. When this fuel turns to smoke, hope you’re in shape, hope you’re ready to go the distance. I’m telling you, I’m ready to go 36 rounds, like a heavyweight, ya heard. …
“If your team got guaranteed money, tell them call me. AB can’t do no more unguarantees. So we clear. I want ya’ll to be clear and understand something. This is not a game, people. This is not for show; this is not to be cool. This is strictly to inspire you that no one can determine your destination but you.”
Sources have maintained that the Steelers will be patient with any deal and will want a high draft pick in return for Brown, who holds an NFL-record six consecutive 100-catch seasons.
Brown has been doing his best to put public pressure on the Steelers, thanking fans for nine years with the team and fielding questions on Twitter. In a question-and-answer session Saturday, Brown said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has an “owner mentality” for calling out players and coaches without repercussion and that coach Mike Tomlin told the team that Brown quit in Week 17 while he was hurt.