Team owner Art Rooney II said Wednesday that the Steelers are "not closing any doors" on Brown's future with the franchise, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports. Rooney's comments amount to a slight change in his stance from a week earlier, when he said it was "hard to envision" the wideout remaining with the team in 2019. That said, Rooney expressed his disappointment that Brown and the team haven't been in contact since the end of the season, adding fuel to the notion that a parting of ways may be in the offing. While Fowler's report notes that the Steelers have yet to explore any trade discussions regarding Brown, Rooney acknowledged "there aren't many signs out there" that a resolution between the two sides will be worked out. The Steelers aren't compelled to resolve Brown's situation immediately, with more clarity on that front more likely to arrive after the new league year opens March 13.
Though Steelers president Art Rooney II noted that the team does not plan to release Brown, he relayed Thursday that "all other options are on the table," Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette reports. With Pittsburgh's star receiver having "skipped out on practices and team meetings" in advance of the team's season finale, it's now quite conceivable that Brown could be traded this offseason. There's still time for the two sides to patch things up, but at this stage Rooney admits that it would be "hard to envision" the wideout being with the Steelers at the start of training camp in July.
The Steelers are expected to consider trade inquiries about Brown (knee) from other teams this offseason, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The news isn't especially surprising after coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged Wednesday that he hasn't spoken with Brown since he was made inactive ahead of the Steelers' season finale against the Bengals over the weekend. While Brown was listed as unavailable due to a knee issue, earlier reports suggested that the inactive status may have been attributed to the wideout getting in a confrontation with a teammate Dec. 26 and subsequently skipping all other team activities prior to gameday. With Brown's communication with the organization seemingly on shaky ground, the Steelers may have some motivation to cash out on an elite talent before that relationship frays further. Any trade that materializes likely would happen in March before the third day of the new league year, when Brown would be due a $2.5 million roster bonus.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports Brown hasn't actually requested a trade. The most recent report suggests Brown made some angry comments last Wednesday but hasn't actually taken the step of having his agent request a trade. He didn't play in Sunday's 16-13 win over the Bengals, with multiple sources suggesting his absence was the product of a disagreement rather than a knee injury. It seems the issue may have started with Brown becoming angry at quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said Tuesday on the radio that he views the 30-year-old wideout as a friend and hopes to have him back in Pittsburgh for 2019. While there's still some work to be done between the various parties, it's hard to see how anyone benefits from Brown playing for another team. The structure of his contract forces the Steelers to take a huge cap hit even if he's traded, and any personal issues between Brown and Roethlisberger should ultimately be outweighed by their long track record of success working together.
Brown has requested a trade, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Brown was listed on the Week 17 injury report as "knee/coach's decision," with multiple reports after the fact suggesting his absence from a 16-13 win over Cincinnati wasn't related to any injury. It now appears the superstar wide receiver is frustrated with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said Tuesday that he views Brown as a friend and wants him back with the Steelers in 2019, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler. Brown's behavior was surprisingly erratic in 2018, but he still has three seasons remaining on a five-year, $72.7 million contract, coming off a 2018 campaign in which he led the NFL in touchdown catches (15) while ranking ninth in receptions (104) and 11th in receiving yards (1,297). This now seems like a situation that might blow over in a few weeks, and La Canfora's report suggests Pittsburgh doesn't intend to trade the 30-year-old wide receiver anyway. Brown's relationship with the Steelers nonetheless figures to be one of the major storylines of the 2019 offseason.
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