The increasing likelihood they will not re-sign Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace is part of the reason the Steelers decided to sign wide receiver Antonio Brown to a six-year, $42.5 million contract today that includes an $8.5 million signing bonus.
Brown, a Pro Bowl return specialist, was in the final year of a three-year contract he signed as a sixth-round draft choice in 2010. He was given a five-year contract extension on top of his final year that will run through the 2017 season.
The timing of Brown's contract extension would appear to be a strong message to Wallace, who has not reported to training camp because he has not signed the one-year, $2.7 million tender he was offered as a restricted free agent
General manager Kevin Colbert said on Thursday that the Steelers would not have any further discussions on a long-term contract with Wallace until he reports to camp. The Steelers have long maintained they wanted to sign Wallace to a multi-year contract and have him finish his career with the team.
However, sources told the Post-Gazette that the Steelers are no longer sure they can re-sign Wallace to a long-term contract, even if he would report to training camp and play this season.
As such, the team did not want to enter the 2013 season facing the possibility of trying to re-sign Wallace and Brown, not to mention their other top receiver, Emmanuel Sanders.
When it became apparent they might not be able to re-sign Wallace -- perhaps the top big-play receiver in the National Football League -- they quickly stepped up their attempt to extend Brown's contract.
The Steelers called Drew Rosenhaus, Brown's agent, on Wednesday night and Rosenhaus came to St. Vincent College on Thursday. He spent the past two days in a number of meetings with Omar Khan, the Steelers' chief negotiator, working out the deal.
"When you're dealing with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan and Art Rooney, you know there's a good chance to get something done," Ronsehaus said. "They really go about their business the right way. Everything worked to perfection."
Brown is coming off a season in which he became the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 return yards in the same season. He was voted the Steelers MVP by his teammates.
Brown is the second Rosenhaus client to receive a new contract after just two years in the league. The other is tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.
"It's a great testament to Antonio, but when you got a head coach like Mike Tomlin and a head coach like Bill Belichick, no one in world knows football like those guys," Rosenhaus said. "They're not afraid to make a commitment to a top player, regardless of their age or experience. They can make the evaluation after two years. I don't think it's a coincidence we got these deals done for these two guys with organizations that are typically battling for the Super Bowl in the AFC."
The increasing likelihood they will not re-sign Mike Wallace is part of the reason the Steelers decided to sign wide receiver Antonio Brown First Published July 27, 2012 10:45 PM