Antonio Brown isn't leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers anytime soon. The team announced Monday that he signed a five-year contract, which ESPN's Adam Schefter noted will make him the highest-paid receiver in the league. Brown reacted with a post on Twitter:
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the contract will be worth more than $15 million annually. Schefter provided a breakdown of the deal:
A $19 million signing bonus is included, per Rapoport.
It's not as if Brown's future was in major doubt. He still had one year left on his previous deal, which would have paid him a little over $13.6 million in 2017, and neither the Steelers nor Brown had much reason to want a separation.
Brown was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl in 2016, and he earned first-team All-Pro honors for the third year in a row.
By his incredibly high standards, the 28-year-old had a somewhat disappointing 2016 campaign. His 106 receptions and 1,284 receiving yards were his lowest totals since 2012, but his 12 touchdowns marked the second-highest tally of his career.
Since entering the league as a sixth-round draft pick out of Central Michigan in 2010, Brown has gone from relative obscurity to one of the best wideouts in the game. Here are his rankings among pass-catchers during that time, per Pro-Football-Reference.com:
|Antonio Brown by the Numbers|
|101 (T22nd)||632 (1st)||8,377 (2nd)||13.25 (38th)||50 (10th)||66.9 (29th)|
Having Brown signed for the next five years will be reassuring for the Steelers. The seven-year veteran is showing few signs—if any—of slowing down.
Brown's 12.1 yards per reception and 85.6 yards per game in 2016 were his lowest figures since 2012 (he averaged 13.4 yards per catch and 104.8 yards per game from 2013-15), but Ben Roethlisberger's injury problems likely played a role. Pittsburgh also had a healthy Le'Veon Bell for 12 games, so Brown didn't need to be the focal point of the offense as he was in 2015, when Bell played just six contests.
Elite wide receivers also tend to age well.
Andre Johnson's last Pro Bowl appearance came when he was 32, while Calvin Johnson retired after his age-30 season, during which he caught 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns and made his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl. Going back a little further, Marvin Harrison's decline didn't hasten until he turned 35.
The Steelers have a pair of talented young receivers in Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers, but Brown's presence will be key with Roethlisberger set to turn 35 on March 2.
And since the franchise's Super Bowl window should remain open at least until Roethlisberger retires, re-signing Brown was a priority this offseason.