CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 01: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers pushes wide receiver Joshua Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
What's really in a sound byte? If Steelers WR Antonio Brown ends up receiving a restricted free agency (RFA) tender offer in 2013, instead of a contract extension, will he really attend OTAs, taking a different path from his teammate, WR Mike Wallace?
As quoted by Ed Bouchette, Brown said "Whatever the case may be, I plan on being here," referring to his future contract situation and OTAs.
What about WR Emmanuel Sanders, who's in the same position as Wallace is now, and Brown will be next year (RFA)? Not to try to get into the business of predicting the future (Spurs to win it all), but this seems the darkest times in the Wide Receiver Extension Battles of the early 2010 decade.
Brown has turned himself into one of the rising stars of the NFL through tireless work and dedication. He became the team's first second-year player to win team MVP honors since Rod Woodson, and appears to be poised to crack the 80-catch, 1,300 yard mark this season. If he does that, and is ok with being paid whatever the 1st round RFA tender would be next year, or the franchise tag, then more power to him.
It's rare when a player won't fight for a multi-year deal over a one-year contract though.
Sanders, who actually had seen more time and targets than Brown had heading into the 2011 season, suffered a few injuries found himself inactive for multiple games, missing the opportunity to have a breakout season of his own.
This is the same Sanders who led the Steelers in targets during the run to the Super Bowl in 2011-12. Clearly, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger knows he's out there. His contract situation is a bit more unknown, and will largely depend on his ability to up his game in 2012.
Wallace has missed the first two weeks of OTAs, which stands to reason why he'll miss the final one next week. He has also suggested he plans to miss the mandatory minicamp in mid-June, which happens right at the deadline of when he'll need to sign his RFA tender or risk the Steelers dropping the offer to 110 percent of what he made last season - the difference is roughly $2 million. The Steelers aren't likely to reduce the $2.7 million tender they have on him now, but they aren't going to be happy without him at minicamp, either.
As for Brown, he's in the advantageous position of sitting back and watching the drama unfold as he gets to be the fan favorite - the one not currently in a contract dispute.
But there's always next year.