Antonio Brown’s time in Pittsburgh may soon be over.
Speaking in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II said Thursday it would be “hard to envision” Brown being with the team when it begins training camp in July.
“Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year, we’re a long way away from thinking that can happen,” the owner said.
Rooney also said he wouldn’t be releasing the polarizing star, but added that “all other options are on the table.” That makes a trade the likeliest exit scenario for the All-Pro receiver, though Rooney was unwilling to commit to any particular plan at this stage.
Notably, Brown will still count for over $21 million — the amount left from his signing bonus — against the Steelers’ cap if he is traded. But Rooney won’t be bullied into keeping Brown for financial reasons.
“That has to be taken into consideration, but, as I sit here today, I’m not going to say that’s going to box us into anything,” he said. “If we decide something has to be done, we’ll figure out how to deal with that.”
Since Brown’s Week 17 antics, which included clashing with clashing with quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger at practice and then disappearing until game day, he has refused phone calls from Rooney and Mike Tomlin.
Brown stormed out of a December 26 walkthrough after Roethlisberger said he ran the wrong route during a play.
He hasn’t played or practiced for the Steelers since, though this is reportedly not Brown’s first run-in with his quarterback.
Rooney will have to make a tough decision this offseason regarding the seven-time Pro-Bowler.
“That’s one of the questions we have to answer,” he said, “whether we can get to a point where we all feel good about him being on the roster next year. We have a way to go before we feel good about that.”