Pouncey, JuJu would welcome Brown back to Steelers

Is Antonio Brown staying in Pittsburgh or is he leaving? Depends on what you read, who you ask and how you interpret what they say.

Steelers president Art Rooney II has said he's open to trading Brown. The wide receiver has gone radio-silent for the most part, save for a Twitter beef with Emmanuel Sanders and a few Instagrams, including one of him shaking Rooney's hand and one in which he is sporting a golden mustache.

According to Brown's Pro Bowl teammates, the receiver is welcome back on the team, despite the end-of-season drama he manifested. While Brown has not spoken to any of his fellow Steelers since leaving their Week 17 win at halftime, longtime Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey said it wouldn't be hard to patch things up.

"You can't tell me a good phone conversation or a sit down can't get things right. Hopefully, it comes to that," Pouncey told The Athletic's Mark Kaboly at the Pro Bowl on Wednesday. "At the end of the day, things can get worked out. Honest to a truth we feel that from both guys -- from talking to Ben (Roethlisberger) and personally knowing AB and being in the draft class and he's been here a long time to play football. I know this football team and I know you get over things. It's not like somebody said something about a family member. It was a football argument."

Brown reportedly got in an argument with Roethlisberger during a walk-through leading up to Pittsburgh's final game, a "blowup" that precipitated Brown's absence from the team. Big Ben and Rooney have denied this incident took place, as did Pouncey on Wednesday, telling reporters, "Things that were reported didn't happen."

"I know AB and I know Ben," the center said. "We are all older. When you are older, you understand things. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes you have arguments and say something you don't mean. We all do it. Then you sit at the house and you regret it."

Brown's receiving partner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was voted team MVP over and took the Pro Bowl place of Brown, also said he would like to see the four-time All-Pro receiver return to the organization.

"He helps out the team a lot," Smith-Schuster said, per Kaboly. "He makes me even better. I obviously can't control that situation, but if I could, I would want him back. At the end of the day, he's our teammate, he's our guy so yeah, (we'd welcome him back)."

Trade discussions regarding Brown with other teams have not begun, Rooney has said, but rumors are abound. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported two weeks ago that the Colts, Jets, 49ers and Broncos are all considered to be suitors.

Meanwhile, Pouncey and some of his fellow Steelers are hopeful that Brown stays in Pittsburgh, where he has already forged relationships and helped establish a winning culture.

"For me, personally, this game, we all experience emotions, man, and it can rub people the wrong way," Pouncey concluded. "But at the end of the day, we all have the same goal and that's winning. It truly is. No matter if anybody has personal feelings or outside feelings, we are a band of brothers and we've been together a long time."

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