The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to restructure the contract of Ben Roethlisberger for the benefit of reducing the impact of trading high-dollar wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The Steelers are listening to offers for the disgruntled Brown ahead of the opening of free agency, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
ESPN first reported Roethlisberger’s deal would be amended before the new league year begins March 13.
The report comes just days after head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that a time could be near when the All-Pro wideout is more of a distraction than he’s worth in Pittsburgh.
Roethlisberger is entering the final year of his contract.
With three years left on his contract, Brown is owed $22 million for 2019. Trading him would bring a salary cap hit of more than $21 million. Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year.
Rival GMs have suggested the Steelers would look for a first-round pick or multiple high picks in return, according to Rapoport.
After walking out of Wednesday’s practice ahead of the 2018 regular-season finale, Brown was inactive — with knee discomfort — against the Bengals on Sunday. Tomlin did not deny that the perception could be reality, that Brown “quit” on the Steelers when the team needed a win (and a Ravens loss) to continue their season.
NFL Network reported teammates doubted Brown’s knee injury claims. Tomlin, who admitted there was no MRI or X-ray on the knee, said he had no reason to doubt the wide receiver was hurt.
But the discord has since escalated and Brown has yet to meet with team officials since the season ended.
“We’re talking about our darkest hour,” Tomlin said. “The guy not communicating is a very real element of discussion.”
Brown, 30, caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and a league-leading 15 touchdowns in 2018. It was his sixth straight season with at least 100 receptions and 1,200 yards.
—Field Level Media