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Antonio Brown gets $4 million raise from Steelers

CHRIS ADAMSKI
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (TNS)
  • Brown will now make $10.25 million for the 2016 season.
  • Brown has a record 375 receptions over the last three seasons.
  • Brown had been under contract for $6.25 million for the upcoming season.

Throughout the summer, Antonio Brown has steadfastly stuck to the line that he was secure in knowing the Steelers were going to “take care of” him when it came to his status as one of the NFL's most underpaid veterans.

He was rewarded for his patience Wednesday.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown wants to be a "Steeler for life."

Brown was given a raise of $4 million for the 2016 season, an industry source confirmed to the Tribune-Review. That brings his compensation for this year to $10.25 million, a value commensurate with one of the league's top wide receivers — a status the 28-year-old Brown certainly can be identified as.

Brown's 375 receptions from 2013-15 are the most in NFL history over a three-season span. The 129 and 136 catches he's had, respectively, the past two seasons both rank among the top four for a single-season in league history.

Brown was under contract to make $6.25 million this season after a similar “advance” in his salary was given last year. The terms of a five-year extension Brown signed during the 2012 training camp - two years after being drafted in the sixth round - originally called for an $8.25 salary in 2016. In effect, the net result is the Steelers took $4 million of what would have been due Brown in 2017 and gave $2 million raises to each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, when Brown would have been vastly underpaid in terms of free-agent market value.

Brown, who is represented by high-profile agent Drew Rosenhaus, will be due for a longterm contract extension next year. The Steelers' longstanding policy is they do not renegotiate or extend the contracts of non-quarterbacks until the player has just one year remaining on an existing deal.

The so-called “advances” in salary given to Brown the past two summers allow the Steelers - semantically - to continue to publicly adhere to their policy. But in practice, the moves are a tacit recognition that the Steelers consider Brown a special player worthy of an “exception” to their rule.

Barring major injury or some other unforeseen development, Brown and the Steelers will now negotiate for a big-money extension in the coming offseason.

Technically, the 2016 advance comes in the form of a restructuring that gives Brown money immediately - both the $4 million and most of the salary that was due to him anyway - in a signing bonus. That will help keep Brown's cap hit lower this season - though it still will rank third on the team behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

The Steelers in the past week have restructured the contracts of multiple veterans as a means of lowering their 2016 salary-cap hits.