PITTSBURGH — The NFL’s most productive receiver over the past three years is getting a raise commensurate with his star status.
A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press the Pittsburgh Steelers have restructured Antonio Brown’s current contract, giving him a $4 million advance against his 2017 salary. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the details had not been made public. ESPN first reported the reworked deal.
This is the second straight year the Steelers have tweaked the details of Brown’s contract to give him a pay bump.
The team advanced the two-time All-Pro $2 million in 2015. Brown will make $10.25 million this season. He celebrated by posting a picture of himself signing the amended contract on Wednesday next to agent Drew Rosenhaus.
The 28-year-old Brown has led the NFL in receptions in each of the past two seasons, including 136 in 2015 even with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sidelined for a significant chunk of the season because of an injury.
Brown, who is the only player in league history to have consecutive seasons with at least 125 receptions, has hinted at wanting a new deal each of the past two springs but the Steelers have declined, pointing to a team policy of not opening contract talks to players with more than one season left on their current deals.
Brown has two years remaining on the six-year, $42.5-million contract he signed in 2012, an agreement that coincided with Brown’s rise to being one of the NFL’s elite players at his position.
Pittsburgh has found a way to sidestep the policy by basically paying Brown early. The two sides will almost certainly begin working on a new contract next offseason, one that would likely make Brown of the league’s highest-paid wide receivers. Brown’s 526 receptions are the most by an NFL player in the first six seasons of their career.
Brown is not expected to play during Thursday night’s preseason finale at Carolina. The Steelers open the season at Washington on Monday, Sept. 12.
NOTES: The Steelers claimed quarterback Zach Mettenberger off waivers from San Diego on Wednesday and placed injured backup Bruce Gradkowski on injured reserve with a significant hamstring injury. Mettenberger, who went 0-10 as a starter while playing for Tennessee in 2014 and 2015, will serve as Pittsburgh’s No. 3 quarterback behind Roethlisberger and Landry Jones.