Jan 2019

Art Rooney II believes ‘it’s hard to envision’ Antonio Brown still being with the Steelers come training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain

Aside from dismissing the idea of releasing him, the Steelers president suggested all other options are on the table for Antonio Brown this offseason, including trading him.

For those of us who believed there was no chance the Pittsburgh Steelers could seriously entertain the idea of trading Antonio Brown this offseason due to the huge salary cap hit that would accompany it, the words of team president Art Rooney II put paid to those notions on Thursday.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the 2018 season ended, Rooney opened up to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the team’s plans for their troubled wide receiver, suggesting that while an outright release was out of the question, all other options were on the table. Stopping short of saying the Steelers were looking into a trade, Rooney certainly did not rule it out. As reported by Dulac.

“There’s not much we can do right now; we have time to make a decision. 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.”

“I’m not going to use those words [trade]. All options are on the table. We have two months to go before we can do anything. There’s no sense making the decision now. We’ll see how things play out. Maybe he decides to come talk to us some day and we learn more about where he is. We’ll see.”

And noting that salary cap ramifications would not be a deciding factor in the team’s decision.

“That has to be taken into consideration, but, as I sit here today, “I’m not going to say that’s going to box us into anything. If we decide something has to be done, we’ll figure out how to deal with that.”

Although trading Brown would create $1.045 million in additional salary cap space, it would also leave Pittsburgh will $21,120,000 to account for in 2019, an absurd figure to deal with unless the return for trading him warrants it. However in the instance, it appears the financial ramifications of such a move will take a back set to team chemistry, with Rooney suggesting the opinion of key veteran players will play a significant part in the Steelers final decision.

“That’s one of the questions we have to answer — whether we can get to a point where we all feel good about him being on the roster next year. We have a way to go before we feel good about that.”

When asked by Dulac if he could envisage Brown on the field in Latrobe come July, Rooney’s response may have been the most damning part of the interview.

“As we sit here today, it’s hard to envision that. 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.”

With no team able to officially complete any tareds until the new league year begins on March 13, Pittsburgh have plenty of time to work out what they are going to do with the star receiver. But without some gesture on Brown’s part to mend his relationship with the team, it sounds looks he could well be headed towards a messy divorce with the Steelers.

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