Half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ potent receiver tandem is in place. The team signed Antonio Brown to a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension, ending the prospect of him becoming a free agent at the end of the season. Voted Pittsburgh’s most valuable player by teammates last season, Brown was a Pro Bowl selection and was the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards (1,108) and at least 1,000 return yards (1,062) in the same season.
“He has played a major role in our success over the past two years,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said, “and we are thrilled he will be a Steeler for many years to come.”
The other important half is Mike Wallace, the speedy receiver who is unhappy with the $2.7 million tender the team extended for this season, Wallace did not report to St. Vincent College with the rest of his teammates on Wednesday for the opening of training camp.
Talks between the team and Wallace have broken off, and the Steelers don’t plan to talk contract until the wide receiver reports to camp, a source told ESPN.com. “I’m looking forward for him to be here, get all hands on deck,” Brown said, “and get everybody moving in the right direction so we can embark on what we can embark on.”
Brown said he speaks with Wallace regularly, but that he has not been pressuring him to report and join his teammates.
“We talk about personal things, but his business is his business,” Brown said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll take care of it, and when he gets here, we’ll embrace him.”
Brown’s deal could affect Wallace’s ability to cash in. The Steelers are up against the salary cap and — with the exception of Hines — have been historically averse to giving big contracts to wide receivers. Two years ago, when Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were rookies, Wallace dubbed the threesome the “Young Money Crew.”
In a nutshell, Brown got to the cash before Wallace. Both of them have evolved nicely over the years.
The first time Brown touched the ball in an NFL regular-season game, he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown at Tennessee Sept. 19, 2010. He only dressed for nine regular-season games as a rookie, catching 16 passes. The kickoff return was his lone touchdown, while Wallace enjoyed a breakout campaign of 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns.