The Indianapolis Colts announced their new contract with their top receiver, T.Y. Hilton, this morning with a five-year, $65 million contract.
Colts gave WR T.Y. Hilton a five-year, $65 million deal, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 13, 2015
With this new deal, Hilton joins a list of NFL receivers who have better paying contracts. It's been a growing discussion since the signings of Demariyus Thomas and Dez Bryant, as Brown has out performed all receivers in yardage over the past two years, but still remains with a lesser paying contract.
After signing his contract extension, Colts T.Y. Hilton is now the 4th highest paid WR in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/7gPqy5wMFS— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 13, 2015
Interestingly enough, shortly after this announcement, it was revealed that the Pittsburgh Steelers would be meeting with Antoino Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, this friday when the team arrives in Jacksonville, Florida for their preseason game against the Jaguars.
Steelers and Antonio Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, scheduled to meet Friday in Jacksonville to discuss a reworked and improved contract.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 13, 2015
This is not a situation that has suddenly arisen, the Steelers knew that Rosenhaus and Brown would be interested in a new deal after rumors made it seem that Brown was going to holdout for a new contract from the Steelers.
The rumor was quickly dispelled when Brown arrived at offseason workouts shortly after the rumors emerged and then Brown let everyone know that he knew holdout was not the best move for any of the parties involved.
Since then, the news on Brown's contract has slowed down while the team started up training camp. He has been every bit as much of a participant of this training camp so far as he has been in the past, which is nothing new for anyone who's ever watched his work ethic in Latrobe, PA.
However Brown's continued commitment to improving every day does not change the fact that his contract does not match the value of his performance on the field. He was the league's second leading receiver in yards in 2013 and the NFL's leading receiver in 2014. Since he re-signed with the Steelers in 2012, Brown's numbers have improved each season. His contract signed him for five years with Pittsburgh for $41.7 million, $8.5 million in guaranteed money.
When Brown signed before the 2012 season, he was still arguably the team's second receiver behind Mike Wallace at the time and accompanied by Emmanuel Sanders who was also pushing for a new contract. Both have since left the Steelers, Wallace signing an insanely high priced contract with the Miami Dolphins (and now with the Minnesota Vikings) and Sanders with the Denver Broncos.
Brown undoubtedly was glad to sign the deal at the time, but also knows that with how well he is playing now he could be making more money for his talents. The level at which he has been producing has been along the lines which, if he were to be a free agent going into this season, could even double the amount which he currently receives from Pittsburgh.
Brown also has to know at this point that a holdout would get him nowhere. He saw Mike Wallace in a holdout position with the Steelers and how that worked out for him, and any agent who pays close enough attention to the Steelers would know that a holdout would be a bad idea. The Steelers never cave on holdouts, not even to the likes of Hines Ward and Franco Harris. Ward had to end his holdout in 2008 before the team would even talk to him about a new contract, and Franco Harris had to spend his last year in the NFL as a Seattle Seahawk.
Those two are legends that any red-blooded Steelers fan would know and were some of the most liked players in the history of the organization; yet neither were going to win a holdout battle. All one has to do is look at the writing on the wall and you could find out that holdouts with the Pittsburgh Steelers are a losing effort.
Ultimately, the Steelers will not be opposed to making Brown happy for the long term and the fact they have agreed to meet with Rosenhaus shows that Brown may have a shot at a new contract. The Steelers will no longer have to carry the dead money cap numbers from players such as Lamarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu, whom if you totaled their collective value in dead money would be over $13 million. The Steelers have room in the future, but also have to take into consideration the other young players whose rookie contracts will soon end and will require some of that freed cap space.
This does not mean that Brown is guaranteed a new deal, but if anything, his reluctance to holdout and willingness to sit down with the Steelers without drama or any major issues should work in his favor for a new contract in the future. Brown is 27 years old and in the prime of his career; were he to not sign a new contract he would be approaching 30 years old and looking for what he would hope would be the biggest contract of his career.
However the problem is that these are the years which most receivers would get paid the most in their NFL shelf life, and Brown would have limited himself to a contract that did not fit his production when players such as Thomas, Bryant and Johnson all received bigger contracts around the same stage of their careers which Brown is in.
Brown has certainly proven to be a better receiver than Hilton is, as well as most of the other big name receivers that might sign bigger contracts while he is in his current agreement with Pittsburgh. So it will be a balancing act for Colbert to keep him happy while not giving up too much cap space.
How these proceedings take place over the next month or so could play a crucial role to the Steelers' roster management concerns for years to come. Should Brown receive a new contract that pays higher, Colbert will have to take into consideration that he still has to sign key players on the team such as David DeCastro and Kelvin Beachum whose rookie contracts are about to run out.