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Steelers

Steelers won't change contract policy for Antonio Brown

| Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, 2:09 p.m.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown makes a catch in front of cornerback Kevin Fogg during practice Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, at St. Vincent.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown makes a catch in front of cornerback Kevin Fogg during practice Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, at St. Vincent.

Like it or not, Antonio Brown is stuck with his current contract for the next two years. That's just the way the Steelers do business.

General manager Kevin Colbert on Thursday told Trib Total Media there has been no change in a long-standing organizational policy to not rework a non-quarterback contract with multiple years remaining.

“It was something that was here before I got here, and I am sure it will continue after I am gone,” Colbert said. “It is just the consistency within the organization. It is something that we believe in and it works for us, so I don't see it changing.”

Brown's contract runs through 2017, meaning the Steelers won't even consider a new or reworked deal for another 19 months.

Brown was unavailable for comment Thursday but said earlier in training camp the Steelers “did a great deal with me, rewarding me with a contract (two) years in.”

Coach Mike Tomlin avoided comment, except to say: “I don't address those things. I'm here to talk about our preparation and our play. That's not my bag, particularly in this setting.”

The deal Brown signed in 2012 was a five-year extension for $42 million. He had started only three career games to that point. Agent Drew Rosenhaus declined comment when reached via email.

Brown, through Rosenhaus, alluded to a possible holdout as far back as April if his contract wasn't reworked. He missed the first week of voluntary conditioning but has been at every practice since, including all four weeks of training camp at St. Vincent.

Rosenhaus met with the Steelers for a courtesy meeting before the team played in Jacksonville.

“Players sign contracts. We expect them to honor them,” Colbert said.

The Steelers have made exceptions before, but for quarterbacks only.

They signed Tommy Maddox in 2004 and Ben Roethlisberger to his second deal with two years left. However, Roethlisberger was forced to wait until the final year of his deal before signing a long-term extension in March.

The Steelers never have extended a position player with more than a year left on his existing deal.

Not even Hines Ward.

After making three straight Pro Bowls from 2001-03, Ward wanted a new contract in 2004, despite having two years left on his deal. The Steelers refused, even though Maddox was extended by a year months prior.

“It has been the position of the organization, and it has always been like that,” Colbert said.

Brown signed the five-year extension to his rookie contract in 2012 after Mike Wallace held out. Brown is owed $6 million this year, $8.25 million in 2016 and $8.71 million in 2017.

Brown, who led the league in receptions and yards last year, is the 14th highest-paid receiver in the NFL by average salary per year.

Nine receivers — Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Marshall and Randall Cobb — average at least $10 million per season, according to overthecap.com. Rosenhaus client T.Y. Hilton recently signed a five-year, $65 million extension. Thomas and Bryant got $70 million deals in July.

Brown, a two-time All-Pro, has 239 receptions (most in NFL) over the past two years, including a franchise record 129 for 1,698 yards with 13 touchdowns last year.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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