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Antonio Brown gets $4 million raise from Steelers

| Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, 12:36 p.m.

Throughout the summer, Antonio Brown steadfastly stuck to the line that he was secure in knowing the Steelers would “take care of” him when it came to his status as one of the NFL's most underpaid veterans.

On Wednesday, he was rewarded for his patience.

Brown was given a raise of $4 million for the 2016 season, an industry source confirmed to the Tribune-Review. That brings his compensation for this year to $10.25 million, a value commensurate with one of the league's top wide receivers — a status the 28-year-old Brown certainly has attained.

Brown's 375 receptions from 2013-15 are the most in NFL history over a three-season span. The 129 and 136 catches he has had, respectively, the past two seasons rank among the top four for a single-season in league history.

Brown was under contract to make $6.25 million this season after a similar “advance” in his salary was given last year. The terms of a five-year extension Brown signed during the 2012 training camp — two years after being drafted in the sixth round — originally called for an $8.25 salary in 2016. In effect, the Steelers took $4 million due to Brown in '17 and gave $2 million raises to each of the '15 and '16 seasons, when Brown would have been vastly underpaid in terms of free agent market value.

Brown, who is represented by high-profile agent Drew Rosenhaus, will be due for a long-term contract extension next year. The Steelers' longstanding policy is they do not renegotiate or extend the contracts of non-quarterbacks until the player has one year remaining on an existing deal.

The so-called “advances” in salary given to Brown the past two summers allow the Steelers — semantically — to continue to publicly adhere to their policy. But in practice, the moves are a tacit recognition that the Steelers consider Brown a special player worthy of an “exception” to their rule.

Barring major injury or some other unforeseen development, Brown and the Steelers will negotiate for a big-money extension in the coming offseason.

Technically, the 2016 advance comes in the form of a restructuring that gives Brown money immediately — the $4 million and most of the salary that was due to him anyway — in a signing bonus. That will help keep Brown's cap hit lower this season, though it still will rank third on the team behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

The Steelers in the past week have restructured the contracts of veterans as a means of lowering their 2016 salary-cap hits.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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