There was only one real winner in the trade between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders, and it certainly wasn't either of the teams involved. No one benefits more from the receiver’s move to the West Coast than Antonio Brown after it was announced that the trade would also be accompanied by a significant increase in salary.
Based on new contract numbers released by Adam Schefter of ESPN, Brown not only gets to leave Pittsburgh for far less than a first-round draft pick, but will also earn an extra $11.2 million for his troubles over the next three seasons, a figure that could rise to $15.2 million if he meets incentives.
Originally set to earn base salaries of $12.625 million in 2019, $11.3 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021, as well as a $2.5 million roster bonus this year for a total of $38.925 million, Brown will now receive at least $50.125 million from the Raiders over the same period and possibly as much as $54.125 million. And if that wasn't enough to put a smile on his face, Schefter also reports that $30.125 million of it is guaranteed.
Raiders are adding money to Antonio Brown’s deal: He now will have three years worth $50.125 million - with incentives to go to $54.125 million, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2019
Where there was no guaranteed money there’s now $30.125 million guaranteed, per source.
As Pittsburgh is left questioning the series of events that caused them to lose the NFL’s best wide receiver, they are also left facing the task of replacing him while accommodating the largest amount of dead money ever recorded for a player in a single season. A figure that represents more dead money than the Steelers have ever had to deal with in one year, even when compared to previous seasons involving multiple releases of players under sizable contacts.
#Steelers also will be taking on a whopping $21.12 million dead money charge. I believe thats the largest 1 year dead money hit of all time (guys split over 2 like Suh have been higher overall)— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) March 10, 2019
The Steelers are now off the hook for the $15.125 million in cash they were due to pay Brown this season, but still need to account for the three outstanding years of prorated signing bonus attached to his contact totalling $21.12 million. Since Brown was due to cost $22.165 million against the cap in 2018 if he had remained in Pittsburgh, the Steelers will actually see salary cap savings of $1.045 million this year.
But whether two mid-rounds picks and an extra million in cap space are worth it to get AB off the roster remains to be seen.