Antonio Brown, one of the most prolific receivers of this generation, just got a huge raise. The Pittsburgh Steeler receiver has been on one of the most valuable contracts in the NFL. All the while he has been putting up numbers that would make Jerry Rice proud. Yesterday, the seven year Vet signed a 4-year extension worth up to 68 million with 19 million guaranteed. The deal will take him into the next decade expiring in 2021.
Considering he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 draft, Brown has come a long way. He will make almost as much money in 2019 as he did from 2010 -2013 ($19,522,691). According to ‘SportTrac’, Brown will make $17,675,000 in 2018 and a smooth $18,925,000 in 2019, thus becoming the highest paid receiver in the NFL. Averaging 17 million a year, he is 2 million higher than the next highest paid receiver A.J Green and almost 3 million above Julio Jones.
After this years playoff run there was speculation that the Steelers may cut ties with the All-Pro wide receiver with a contract looming. While ill advised, it wouldn’t be the first time, as they let Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders walk in years past.
Clearly Brown is different as the team showed a commitment to him. The team has faith in Brown’s ability on and off the field and ultimately trust him. While it typically doesn’t work out giving wide receivers big deals, Brown may be an outlier.
Consistency is key and Brown is the essence of consistency finishing in the top 2 in receptions in each of the last four seasons. Statistically Brown has effectively been an overall stat filler of all major categories.
Per ‘Pro Football Reference’, Brown’s totals far surpass those of his peers. At 5’ 10’’ Brown is an inch taller than former Knick Nate Robinson but has made it work through dedication to maximizing his abilities and is effectively the best route runner in the NFL.
Source: Pro Football Reference
Unlike Julio Jones and Dez Bryant who thrive with their size and strength, Brown uses technique and agility to avoid tacklers. His elusiveness has allowed him not only to extend plays but to play more as he has been one of the healthiest players in the NFL.
While he did have a down year in 2016, posting his worst numbers since 2012, he is still in his prime. If anything is to be made of his decline look to the injuries around him. Although QB Ben Roethlisberger only missed 2 games last year, he was inconsistent all year. Big Ben is known for dealing with his injuries and playing with them. Although this year, there was a visual difference in his play. Now 34, Roethlisberger has endured more injuries than can be counted on two hands. Somehow Ben has managed to make it work and if he and Brown can find what they had in 2014 they will put the league on notice.
Unfortunately, Roethlisberger wasn’t the only steeler with injuries last year. Eli Rogers also missed games and dealt with injuries. Sammie Coates who blew up the league the first few weeks dealt with hand injuries. Along with the injuries, the Steelers were missing their second receiver Martavis Bryant. After serving a one year suspension the 25yr old Bryant is seeking reinstatement into the NFL. If he is reinstated the Steelers will finally have the down field threat that will only open up Antonio Brown for more passes in the future.