It may seem like light years ago, but remember when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was threatening a minicamp, OTAs, training camp hold out due to wanting a new contract? Sure, the media sensationalized the story, but some often say where there is smoke, there is fine.
Brown was a good employee and didn't miss more than one workout throughout the entire offseason, but that doesn't mean he won't be expecting more money when the time comes for his agent and the Steelers to sit down and try to hash out a new deal.
When that will happen is open for speculation, but the fact remains Brown is under contract with the Steelers until 2017 after signing a 5-year extension worth $41.7 Million dollars in 2012. Brown is due to receive $9,787,500 this season, $12,037,500 in 2016 and $10,797,500 in 2017. (All contract information courtesy of overthecap.com)
Those are some hefty salary cap hits for Brown in the next few seasons. There is a good chance the team might be heading to the negotiating table prior to the 2016 season to see what they can do to not only lock up the NFL's best wide receiver for the long-term, but also have him sign a deal which is more friendly to the salary cap in the short-term.
So, what will this new deal look like for the man who has lead the league in receptions the past two seasons? Look no further than the new contracts signed by Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant as the new standard in terms of guaranteed money, length of contract and specifics for elite wide receivers across the league.
Are the Steelers the next budding NFL Dynasty?
The Pittsburgh Steelers went from dominance to mediocrity as the famed teams of the 2000s disbanded. Are the Steelers building the next NFL dynasty in front of our very eyes?
Steelers Training Camp Preview: OLBs
Outside linebacker may not be the Steelers' most uncertain position on the team right now, but it's definitely the most interesting. Two young first-round picks? A guy who is literally old enough to be a grandfather who may still be one of the most feared players in the league? The player who led the Canadian Football League in sacks in 2014? Yes, please.
Both Thomas and Bryant both signed 5-year contracts worth $70 Million dollars. In fact, the two deals are eerily similar, which makes the rumors of the Broncos and Cowboys having specific conversations regarding the deals they would be offering their star wide receivers even more valid. Nonetheless, the guaranteed money in these contracts are astounding. Thomas will be guaranteed $43.5 Million dollars while Bryant will be guaranteed $45 Million after inking their new deal heading into the 2015 season.
These two players are as close to Brown as you get when it comes to production on the playing field. Bryant lead the NFL in touchdowns in 2014, and Thomas was second in yardage last season, behind Brown. The wide receiver market will continue to fluctuate as other big-name pass catchers will be looking for their personal pay day after the 2015 season.
When Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green and Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones look for new deals after their rookie deals expire, the market will again fluctuate. With each fluctuation it changes players' expectations for what they feel they are capable of receiving when it is time for them to hit the negotiating table.
Every now and then you find a player willing to give a team a "hometown discount", but at a time when there is money to be had and NFL careers getting shorter and shorter, look for players like Antonio Brown to look to cash in on a long-term deal not only giving them job security, but financial stability for years to come. As the NFL turns into a more pass-happy league, expect the Steelers to have to pay Brown handsomely if they want No. 84 to wear nothing but black and gold for the duration of his career.