Antonio Brown wants a new deal because he’s outperformed the one he currently has 3 years left on. The Steelers, on the other hand, have no incentive to give a new deal to a player they took a chance on three years ago by rewarding him with a huge extension they had no urgency to give him at that time.
There are arguments for and against extending him.
Against because it sets a bad precedent for extending guys early by encouraging others to attempt renegotiation if they feel they have outperformed their deal. There is also a growing sense that the proliferation of pro ready WRs that have hit the league the past couple of drafts is a trend that will continue, thus making WRs a fungible commodity and diminishing the value of the position as a whole.
I was in the “no way you give AB a new deal until March 2017” camp until recently. Although I don’t feel strongly, I do think it may be a good business move to go ahead and do it now or by next Spring at the latest, taking advantage of the ability to both dictate terms and spread the signing bonus over the remainder of the existing deal. Here’s why:
First and foremost, AB is a special football player. He is that rare blend of great athleticism and drive that will not only maximize his own abilities but push the qualities of the players around him. Guys like AB are valuable because they lead by example. Yes, he has a little diva in him, but he’s a WR. Every one of those guys does! I think the Steelers recognized these qualities in AB when they gave him the contract he signed in 2012. I don’t believe they saw much risk in it at all and, Limas Sweed notwithstanding, as with most of the WR decisions the past several years they were correct.
Second, a quick look at the free agent WRs coming available in 2016 and 2017 netted me a list of players who will all receive as much or more than AB currently averages on a deal that currently pays him as the 13th highest paid WR (Avg Yearly Salary): AJ Green, Julio Jones, Malcolm Floyd, Andre Caldwell, Brian Quick, Pierre Garcon, Emmanuel Sanders, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Terrance Williams, Keenan Allen
I’m sure there are guys I’ve overlooked as I invested about 30 seconds and came up with a whole slew of names.
Waiting to redo AB’s deal is just going to make signing him more expensive later.
Third, the Steelers are in a fantastic negotiating position right now. As has been pointed out they have him under contract through 2017 and can franchise him afterward if they are so inclined. Sitting down with Drew Rosenhaus between now and the beginning of the 2016 season and hammering out a deal doesn’t give AB and his reps much leverage. AB can hold out, but he has to show up by the Tuesday after the week 10 game to get credit for a year of service. Doing so in 2016 and 2017 not only does nothing to build his brand but also does not satiate his need to perform on the big stage and show his “greatness”, two factors that I genuinely believe drive AB.
The Steelers can, in effect, make a take it or leave it offer that is far less expensive than the one they’ll have to make to extend him in March 2017. AB also will not be able to say that the team was unwilling to negotiate with him, which hopefully will soften any stance he or his representatives want to take with regard to a hold out.
Last, my friend Copa makes an argument that I find compelling even If I don’t feel as strongly as he does about it.
“…what message will be sent? That if you are a HOF caliber player with a HOF work ethic, HOF attitude, leadership, team focus, and consistent league leading results, and if unusual circumstances warrant it, the team will have your back. Heck, that’s the kind of “problem” you should want to foster and encourage. This is not the same as capitulating to a diva holdout player. Good receivers are fungible. Great team players and leaders are not.”
I would offer AB a 2 year extension worth $32M TODAY. I would give him $8 million to sign and give the Steelers two additional years at what are likely to be below market rates in 2018 and 2019 and also giving the team the option of cutting him if necessary as soon as 2017. It would be a take it or leave it proposition that allowed AB to say he got a new deal worth $16 million per year. The reality would be that the Steelers got two more years out of AB at below market rates and that they would probably have to do this dance again in 2018. However, at the point the market landscape could have changed a great deal for previously mentioned and unforseen reasons.
The offer would look like this:
|New Deal with Extension (2 yrs $32M, $8M signing):|
I’m not saying AB would take it, but you know the saying about a bird in the hand……
Please tell me what you think in the comments below. Please attempt to do so without calling me or anyone else anything insulting. Well, at least not anyone else.