Is Art Rooney II softening his stance on Antonio Brown’s return to Steelers? |

Is Art Rooney II softening his stance on Antonio Brown’s return to Steelers?

Joe Rutter
Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown celebrates a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL football game at Heinz Field, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Art Rooney II isn’t closing the door on Antonio Brown returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 10th season. In fact, the door may be open a little wider than in previous weeks.

On a conference call with fans Wednesday, the Steelers president indicated the team can mend its fractured relationship with Brown, who has not returned calls from players, coaches and even Rooney since he skipped team meetings and a walkthrough in the final week of the season.

Rooney was asked about the chance of Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell returning to the team. Rooney did not mention Bell in his answer, but he addressed the possibility of Brown coming back.

“There are a lot of factors we have to take into account on it,” Rooney said. “We’d have to sit down with Antonio and understand where he is and make sure he understands where we are. There is some work to do before we figure that out.”

Two weeks earlier, Rooney said it was “hard to envision” Brown returning to the Steelers next season. Last week, he said there weren’t “many signs” that Brown would apologize to the team for his behavior.

If the Steelers trade Brown, they would probably do it before March 17, when he is due a $2.5 million roster bonus. Trades can’t be made until March 13, although teams can have informal deals in place before then.

Kicker Chris Boswell is due a $2 million roster bonus in March, and Rooney said Wednesday that he expects Boswell to be on the roster in training camp.

“I would say at a minimum that (general manager) Kevin Colbert and his group will be looking to bring in some competition with Chris Boswell,” Rooney said. “I think they’ll make something happen there and at least give him some competition for the kicking position.”

Other items addressed by Rooney:

• Linebacker Ryan Shazier continues to make “amazing progress” in his recovery from a spinal cord injury. Shazier, who a year ago was unable to walk on his own power, started jogging in recent weeks. “Almost every week, he’s doing something he wasn’t doing the week before,” Rooney said. “He’s a remarkable young man and an inspiration to everybody around here.” Shazier will be a free agent in March, and Rooney earlier indicated the Steelers would sign him to a contract so he could continue to rehabilitate with them.

• The Steelers will wear the jerseys with the block numbers as part of their throwback uniform this season, but Rooney said “we don’t have any plans to make that change on a permanent basis.”

• Late broadcaster Myron Cope will be “someone who gets lots of consideration” to be part of the third Hall of Honor class.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
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