Antonio Brown's Contract, Behavior Addressed by Steelers Owner Art Rooney

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2017

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Logan Ryan #26 of the New England Patriots attempts to tackle Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

As calls for Antonio Brown's departure begin to grow in Pittsburgh, Steelers owner Art Rooney made one thing clear Tuesday: Brown's not going anywhere.

"He's another player we're hoping to...have here for a long time," Rooney said, per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Speculation about Brown's future with the Steelers has become an increasingly popular topic in recent weeks, specifically after the Pro Bowler broadcast coach Mike Tomlin's speech following their divisional-round win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Facebook Live. 

That was just the latest in a series of incidents for Brown, whose boisterous personality has only grown during his ascent to stardom. Brown was penalized three times for excessive celebration during the 2016 regular season, which drew criticism from teammates, per CBS Radio (h/t Des Bieler of The Washington Post), and has led to some speculation that he's selfish.

Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network reported the Steelers have grown concerned that Brown is more concerned with his personal statistics than team success. She specifically pointed to an instance of Brown hanging his head after DeAngelo Williams scored Pittsburgh's first touchdown in the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers 

Rooney downplayed Brown's antics, saying they are "little annoyances, with the emphasis on little," per Dulac.

"Antonio is a good guy, a good person. I enjoy him personally. He's someone his teammates like to have on the team," Rooney said, per Dulac.

Brown, 28, is heading into the last year of his contract and is likely due a significant raise this offseason. He is scheduled to make $4.7 million in 2017, pittance for someone who is arguably the most complete receiver in football. 

The Steelers added $4 million to Brown's 2016 salary last August as something of a make-good. The Rooneys famously do not negotiate extensions before the last year of a player's contract, and adding money upfront allowed Pittsburgh to reward Brown while also sticking to the letter of its law.

"Our intention is to get a contract extension done with Antonio," Rooney said, per Dave Lolly of the Observer-Reporter.

Brown is a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, making the first team each of the last three seasons. He recorded 106 receptions for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016, his fourth straight year with at least 100 catches and 1,200 yards. Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best receiver in football.

There is no denying Brown's preternatural talent, and the idea that the Steelers would trade him rather than rein him in a big was always a little farfetched. The team's Super Bowl window with Ben Roethlisberger inches closer to shutting each year, and the trio of Roethlisberger, Brown and Le'Veon Bell has never been healthy for a full postseason.

Rooney's downplaying of Brown's issues should put any of this speculation to rest.