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Steelers

New contract talks with Steelers WR Brown appear set to begin

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, 2:03 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) watches as the Steelers trail the Patriots AFC Championship Game against at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 22, 2017.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) watches as the Steelers trail the Patriots AFC Championship Game against at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 22, 2017.

Drew and Jason Rosenhaus, the Miami-based agents for Antonio Brown, were in Pittsburgh on Monday night, an indication they're beginning negotiations with the Steelers on a contract extension for the All-Pro wide receiver.

Brown posted images of himself with the Rosenhaus brothers atop Mt. Washington on his verified Snapchat account.

Brown has one year remaining on his contract with a $4.7 million base salary and $13.6 million salary-cap number. In the past two offseasons, the Steelers gave Brown advances on future salaries and said they would negotiate a new deal after the 2016 season.

Brown, who has the most receptions over any four-year span in NFL history, could seek to become the league's highest-paid receiver. Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green has a contract with a $15 million annual average value, per overthecap.com.

Drew Rosenhaus also represents Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who will become a free agent in March. Rosenhaus declined to comment on the status of negotiations for Brown and Timmons.

The contract status of free agent Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell also could become clearer this week. On Wednesday, NFL teams may begin using the franchise and transition tags on players. The deadline to apply such tags is March 1.

Using the exclusive franchise tag would bound Bell to the Steelers for another season — at a salary equal to the average of the five highest-paid running backs — while the team tries to work out a long-term deal, a stated goal of team president Art Rooney II.

A nonexclusive franchise tag would permit other teams to negotiate with Bell, but the Steelers would have the right to match any offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

A transition tag would give Bell a salary equal to the average of the 10 highest-paid running backs, but the Steelers would receive no compensation should they decline to match another team's offer.

Bell had a $966,900 base salary and $1.13 million salary-cap number last season when he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage per game, rushed for 1,268 yards and set franchise single-game rushing records in the regular season and playoffs.

The expected value of a franchise tag for running backs is $12.2 million, with a transition tag being worth $10 million.

The Steelers last used the franchise tag in 2011, on linebacker LaMarr Woodley, after applying it to kicker Jeff Reed in 2010. They used the transition tag in 2014 on linebacker Jason Worilds.

Last year, nine NFL players received the franchise tag, with four reaching long-term deals. They were Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker, Buffalo tackle Cordy Glenn, Denver linebacker Von Miller and New York Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

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