The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed one of their wide receivers, only it was Antonio Brown and not Mike Wallace as everyone was expecting. Brown signed a five-year, $42.5 million contract according to league sources.
Brown was entering the final year of a three-year deal he signed after being drafted out of Central Michigan in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Last season, Brown caught 69 passes for 1,108 yards and 2 TD’s and made the Pro Bowl. Last season, Brown became the first player in NFL history to compile 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards returning kicks. He was also voted the Steelers Most Valuable Player by his teammates.
Fellow receiver Mike Wallace has been the subject of much speculation this offseason as he is unhappy with his contract tender extended to him by the team which will pay him $2.7 million this season. Wallace has been a no-show so far in camp which is now two days old.
With Brown signed, it is unlikely Wallace will get what he is seeking for this season as the Steelers are tight against the salary cap. However, that is not to say a deal won’t, or can’t happen, just that it makes it very tricky.
All of the attention this offseason was focused on Wallace, allowing Brown to stay virtually under the radar and he is the one emerging with a rich new deal. Last season, Wallace led the team in receptions with 72 for a team leading 1,193 yards and 8 TD’s. However, his production dropped off and he didn’t record a 100 yard receiving game since October 23rd when he racked up 118 yards on 3 catches against the Arizona Cardinals. Brown, however, emerged as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target down the stretch and compiled 3 100 yard games from October 23rd on. From October 23rd onward, Brown had 51 catches, Wallace only had 39 catches. While much of that has to do with Wallace getting the double teams, it also shows Roethlisberger is comfortable throwing to Brown.
It will be interesting to see how the Steelers-Wallace saga plays out. In the meantime, they will have the dynamic Antonio Brown under contract until 2017.