There is some news on the salary cap front this evening, as Adam Schefter is reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers have restructured the contract of wide receiver Antonio Brown. This is certainly not surprising news—in fact, we have written for a while now that it was expected, if not inevitable.
What it does do is that it officially puts the Steelers in cap compliance with plenty of time to get some more work done between now and the start of free agency, which begins on Tuesday of next week.
Though the full details of the deal are not yet available, it is believed that the restructured contract frees up about $4 million in cap space for the 2014 season. Entering the day, the Steelers were estimated to be a little less than $1 million over the $133 million cap limit, so this should give them some $3 million plus of breathing room.
The moves will certainly not stop there, of course. A restructure of inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons’ contract should be imminent, perhaps tomorrow, and the contract of cornerback Ike Taylor will be adjusted substantially, if not terminated, before Tuesday. A long-term extension with Jason Worilds will also move the cap needle further into the green after accepting his transition tag.
The move to restructure Brown’s contract certainly appears to be a safe bet a season after not only proving that he can be the team’s legitimate number one receiver, but doing so without a significant threat opposite him, as he had with Mike Wallace in his first season plus of starting experience.
He did so by nearly matching Hines Ward’s team record of 112 receptions, coming just two shy of that, and putting up a franchise-best 1499 yards to do with a career-best eight touchdown receptions.
All this resulted in a Pro Bowl bid—he was the only Steeler to attend after Troy Polamalu pleaded injury to escape the trip—as well as a nomination to the Second-Team All-Pro team, which would have been a First-Team nod had Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon not had one of the greatest stretches a wide receiver has ever seen in this league.
More than that, however, Brown achieved something that nobody in this league had ever had en route to demonstrating himself as a model of consistency. He became the first player in NFL history to post at least five receptions with at least 50 yards in every game of the 2013 season. Others have done one or the other, but never both.
This is not the first time he made NFL history. In his second season in the league, he became the first player ever to record at least 1000 yards in returns while also posting at least 1000 receiving yards. He likely would have done the same this year had he been allowed to return kicks. He totaled 409 yards on 32 punt returns and added 16 on his lone kick return.