Art II: 'Hard To Envision' Antonio Brown Staying With Steelers In 2019

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Everything wide receiver Antonio Brown has said and done recently indicates he no longer wants to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization. But, he's in no hurry. "We're not closing the door on anything at this point", Rooney said.

Rooney added the team hasn't made any firm decisions, though it won't simply cut Brown.

Brown and the Steelers stirred up controversy in the final week of the regular season when it was reported that Brown had sat out Pittsburgh's must-win Week 17 matchup not because of injury but because he'd been benched.

Brown missed the team's 2018 finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rooney went on to say it would be "hard to envision" Brown reporting to training camp with the team next season. But I will say all other options are on the table. We're not going to release him, that's not on the table.

Brown, 30, led the National Football League in receiving touchdowns in 2018 with 15, and posted his sixth consecutive 100-catch season.

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Within a few hours after the newspaper posted Rooney's comments, Brown tweeted a photo of himself and Rooney shaking hands, with the caption, "Good Business #Boomin". Brown enters the third year of a five-year, $72.7-million extension signed before the 2017 season. Right now, the Steelers are about $28 million under the cap, but that only accounts for 38 players currently under contract.

A team such as the San Francisco 49ers could be interested, as they have the cap space and the need for a wide receiver to help spur the offense.

Brown has not formally requested a trade.

Pittsburgh can't trade him until March 13, meaning the Steelers have two months to smooth things over with the NFL's best receiver or else they might be forced to find a new home for him.

Rooney said in the interview that salary cap implications would not "box us into anything".

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