According to NFL Media's Mike Garafolo, the best wide receiver in football agreed to a restructured contract Wednesday that still takes him through 2017 but now pays him $10.25 million in 2016. He was originally set to make $6.25 million.
The money swap is likely the prelude to a far more significant deal to come for the four-time Pro Bowler. Brown, 28, put up 375 catches for 5,031 yards and 31 touchdowns over the past three seasons. Brown finished behind only Julio Jones in receiving yards last year and led all receivers in 2014 with 1,698 yards.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport added that the new money (with an $8.975 million signing bonus) comes with the promise of a new deal next year, according to a source with knowledge of the contract.
The minor tweaks are becoming somewhat of a yearly tradition for the Steelers and their breakout star. Almost a year to the day, the Steelers swapped money to give Brown an extra $2 million in 2015. That season, he opted against a holdout with the thought that a large extension was coming. Pittsburgh is running out of chances to make that happen before Brown is due to hit the open market in 2017, where he would undoubtedly become the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. That might happen anyway if Pittsburgh gets around to a new deal this calendar year.
There is little question that he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have something special, and Pittsburgh is doing everything in their power to keep Brown happy in the meantime. The six-year, $43.04 million deal Brown signed in 2012 is one of the best bargains in modern NFL history. With running back Le'Veon Bell down for the first three games of the season, Brown is again expected to carry Pittsburgh's high-flying offense.
His 265 catches over the last two seasons are the most by any player over that span in NFL history. Outside of Calvin Johnson, no receiver has put up as many yards in two seasons as Brown did in 2014 and 2015.
The only question now is how much it will end up costing Pittsburgh in the long-term. Brown came in cheap the first time but likely will break the bank the second time around.