Two weeks after saying it was "hard to envision" Brown returning, Rooney took a more measured approach during a conference call with fans on Wednesday.
"There are a lot of factors we have to take into account on it," Rooney said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We'd have to sit down with Antonio and understand where he is and make sure he understands where we are. There is some work to do before we figure that out."
The statement could be read as an olive branch to Brown, beginning a Steelers' effort to patch over the problems with the superstar receiver, as Pittsburgh players suggested on Wednesday. It could also be an indication that perhaps Pittsburgh isn't receiving the types of trade offers for Brown that it anticipated.
Rooney's comment cracks the door open slightly for a potential reconciliation, but several stages remain, starting with Brown desiring a resolution that doesn't require him wearing a different jersey for the first time in his pro career.