Antonio Brown has made it clear he wants to be traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he seems fully committed to that idea.
Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager wondered whether the situation could be salvaged by a phone call from Ben Roethlisberger to Brown to work things out. Fansided’s Jason Cole says Big Ben has tried to call Brown multiple times and that Brown won’t pick up the phone.
Roethlisberger has tried to call. Several times. AB won't pick up the phone. Whether he should or not is irrelevant. Fact is, he's not picking up. https://t.co/W2iLnHknmM
— Jason Cole (@JasonCole62) March 6, 2019
How long this has been going on is unclear, but it shows that Brown is not open to returning to the Steelers. If he were, he might answer these calls and try to work things out with his teammates. Instead, he’s ripped Roethlisberger’s “owner mentality” and seems to have distanced himself from the team completely. He wants out and that’s it.
If there’s any question, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on Ben Roethlisberger’s side when it comes to speaking publicly and sharing his opinion.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that Roethlisberger has free reign to speak publicly as the organization’s clear leader and someone who has been there and done it all before.
Kevin Colbert emphatically endorsed Ben Roethlisberger's leadership, citing impassioned speech at halftime in Jax as one example. Colbert won't curb Big Ben sharing opinions on radio b/c "Ben’s the elder statesman. If the players were smart, they’d listen to him. he’s been there"
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 20, 2019
In other words, Antonio Brown, who has criticized exactly what the Steelers are praising here, is out of luck. There’s a reason the Steelers are willing to trade him. This is clearly Roethlisberger’s team, for better or worse, and his word carries a lot of weight — more than that of his teammates, Brown included.
Antonio Brown wants to leave the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he appears willing to go scorched earth on his way out.
Brown blasted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Twitter Saturday when asked by a fan about the source of conflict between the two. Brown claimed Roethlisberger has an “owner mentality” and feels he can criticize anyone, and players who complain are shipped out of town because of the quarterback’s importance.
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
In other words, Brown feels Roethlisberger can call anyone out and get away with it, but he’s the bad guy if he calls out his quarterback.
The fact that there’s bad blood between these two was not a secret, and Brown had been dropping some hints in his Twitter likes indicating that he was completely done with Roethlisberger. It’s pretty tough to see them clearing the air after this, especially with Brown trying to force his way out of Pittsburgh.
Antonio Brown may have given a sign on Friday that he is open to smoothing things over with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his social media activity still says otherwise.
When Brown essentially abandoned the Steelers during the final week of the regular season, a report claimed he had an ugly altercation with Ben Roethlisberger before he left the team. If that wasn’t evidence enough that the relationship between Brown and Roethlisberger is strained, perhaps Brown “liking” two tweets about the sexual assault allegations against Big Ben will be.
Antonio Brown liked tweets that said Ben Roethlisberger "raped"pic.twitter.com/4DvBhxSusG
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 15, 2019
It seems like Brown was just trying to point out that there is a double standard with how Steelers fans view players, but it says a lot that he called attention to the allegations against Roethlisberger. Though Roethlisberger has tried to downplay the issues between the two recently, he can’t be happy about that.
Brown has reportedly agreed to meet with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, but it still seems unlikely that he will remain with the team in 2019. The tweet he sent earlier in the week was fairly straightforward, and subtly calling out Roethlisberger is just further evidence that he’s not on good terms with his teammates.
Whatever his role in the recent Antonio Brown may have been, the Pittsburgh Steelers are clearly committed to Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Roethlisberger and the Steelers are set to do a contract extension and restructuring to grant Pittsburgh more cap room in the short-term.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger are expected to restructure and extend the veteran quarterback's deal before the new league year begins March 13, per league sources. More cap room if the team decides to trade WR Antonio Brown.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 5, 2019
As Schefter notes, the move will ensure that the Steelers have some cap space even if they move on from Antonio Brown and the significant dead cap money that would come with it. That dead cap money would only be a factor for a year, as was explored here, so that factor combined with a bit of extra money from a Roethlisberger restructuring may be reason to believe a Brown trade is somewhat realistic.
Details are trickling out about the situation surrounding Antonio Brown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it does not sound good.
Brown missed practice on Wednesday, was listed on the injury report on Thursday and Friday due to his knee, and the Steelers continued to hint that his status for Sunday’s season finale against the Bengals was in question. Brown did not play in the game, and now we know why.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Brown did not attend the team’s meeting or walk-through on Saturday, so he was benched as punishment on Sunday. They also reported that he had a dispute with a teammate during the weekend.
CBS’ Jason La Canfora reports that Brown had an altercation with Ben Roethlisberger that was “fairly ugly” and Brown was in the wrong.
The altercation that led Antonio Brown's benching last week was with Ben Roethlisberger. Im told it was fairly ugly and the WR was totally in the wrong. He went AWOL essentially for the 3rd time this season dating back to training camp
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 31, 2018
NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported that Brown and Roethlisberger had “a little bit of a disagreement” on Wednesday, which started all this.
Why would all this information leak out? The Steelers seemingly would want to keep any hint of dysfunction or problems quiet, unless they were setting the stage to part ways with Brown. Between this and some of his problems off the field, not to mention his issues with the Steelers, the team may be ready to move on.
- Antonio Brown
Ben Roethlisberger created a massive buzz in Pittsburgh about two years ago when he openly pondered retirement and talked about concerns he has about his long-term health, but it would appear the Steelers quarterback does not want that to be a topic of conversation again this offseason.
During his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan on Monday, Roethlisberger was asked if he plans to play in 2019. While he stopped short of completely ruling out retirement, he gave a pretty strong indication that he isn’t going anywhere.
— Joe Kapp (@937Catfish) December 24, 2018
Roethlisberger will turn 37 this offseason, but he has continued to play at an extremely high level. While the Steelers are on the brink of missing the playoffs this season for the first time since 2013, Roethlisberger only needs 158 passing yards next week to eclipse the 5,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. His 33 touchdown passes are already his most ever, so you could argue that this has been his best statistical year.
The last time Roethlisberger gave off the impression he was thinking about retirement had a lot to do with criticizing himself when he was frustrated, but he probably knows better than to make that mistake again. It would be a surprise if he is not back under center for the Steelers in 2019.
- Ben Roethlisberger