Weeks after general manager Kevin Colbert insisted the franchise wanted the All-Pro receiver to "retire as a Steeler," Pittsburgh on Monday signed Brown to a new five-year deal that makes him the highest-paid wideout in the league.
The pact is essentially a four-year extension worth $68 million that runs through 2021, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. It includes a $19 million signing bonus, Rapoport added. The 28-year-old Brown had one year remaining on his current deal, which was set to pay him just $4.71 million in 2017:
The massive $17 million annual price tag in new money easily surpasses A.J. Green's $15 million average. It's fair to wonder, though, if Brown will remain the game's highest-paid wideout for long: With Alshon Jeffery set to hit the open market, the former Bears pass-catcher has a chance to crack the bank.
Money aside, Brown was fantastic this past season, finishing second in the NFL with 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. Since 2011, the eighth-year pro leads the league in targets, receptions and receiving yards while tying Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison with four straight campaigns of 100-plus catches in the regular season.
With more receptions over a four-year span (481) than any player in NFL lore, Brown shows no signs of slowing down. Despite reports that some of his antics wore "thin" with teammates and coaches in 2016, the Steelers were a no-brainer to extend him. Pittsburgh deserves plenty of credit for finalizing negotiations long before Jeffery went to market.
As a foundational piece of the puzzle on offense, Brown is destined to remain inside team walls deep into the future. The question now is whether franchise-tagged running back Le'Veon Bell will join him.