Antonio Brown hasn't closed door on return to Steelers

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One Steeler (Le'Veon Bell) is essentially guaranteed to leave Pittsburgh in the offseason, but another, slightly higher-profile star's future isn't as certain.

Despite the latest round of public drama, Antonio Brown could remain a Steeler in 2019 and beyond. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that while a fresh start is now the preferred outcome, the Steelers have not yet given Brown and his agent permission to facilitate a trade, meaning the issue remains in the team's hands.

The Steelers are exploring trade options, but Brown hasn't closed the door on returning, maintaining a steady dialogue with some in the organization with whom he's close to express that sentiment, Rapoport added.

That's good news for those who are worried that Brown won't be remembered for his premier play as a Steeler, but as a source of frequent drama -- a diva, if you will. Jerome Bettis placed himself in this group of disappointed folk following the situation, saying Brown is "much more than this issue."

But based on the latest information from Rapoport, there's still hope that doesn't happen. And even if he does get traded, it's not happening anytime soon. The reason: The Steelers would carry $21.1 million of Brown's salary in dead cap if they trade him before June 1, according to Over The Cap. Imagine eating up $21 million of a team's salary cap -- over 11 percent of the total cap space for the year -- to ensure Brown does not play for your team.

After that date, the number drops significantly, to $7.04 million, making a deal much more possible. But it's Jan. 27. June 2 is a long way away, leaving plenty of time for fences to be mended and healing to happen.

Again, this story isn't going away any time soon.

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