Steelers GM disagrees with perception of locker room

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INDIANAPOLIS -- From the outside looking in, there appears to be plenty of drama in the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room.

The past season saw the well-documented episodes of running back Le'Veon Bell electing to sit out instead of signing his franchise tender and the deterioration of the relationship between the team and wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Nevertheless, general manager Kevin Colbert took issue with the categorization of a drama-filled locker room from those not within the organization.

"I really don't agree with the perception that there's huge drama within the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room," Colbert said Wednesday at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. "Again, coach [Mike] Tomlin treats our players like men. He gives them the opportunity to be a man and he tries to grow them not only as professional football players, but as fathers, brothers and just as men. So, really, I have complete disagreement with the perception."

Colbert's feelings on the subject aside, there's no ignoring two of the NFL's top offensive stars commanded headlines in 2018 and even into the early part of 2019 for the wrong reasons, even prompting some members of the offensive line to speak out early in the season during Bell's absence.

The Steelers appear content to allow Bell to enter free agency by not placing any tag on him to keep him in Pittsburgh. But what happens with Brown remains to be seen.

The talented wideout recently met with Steelers president Art Rooney II, and Brown posted a photo on social media showing the two with a portion of the caption saying that "both agreed that it is time to move on."

Colbert, who said last week that three teams have inquired about Brown, added Wednesday that interest has grown around the league. One of Brown's expected suitors, the San Francisco 49ers, have not yet reached out to Pittsburgh, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.

Still, the Steelers aren't about to just give away a four-time All Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection for nothing.

"Antonio Brown is one of the best players in the National Football League," Colbert said. "We'd like to have him on our team, so if you lose a player like that, if you decide to take a player like that off your team, you best have the compensation that will justify removing that player. And that would be significant compensation either in the form of a draft pick or picks, or a player and picks just so you can try to balance off the great loss that will happen if you lose a player like that."

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