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Antonio Brown restructures deal, Pittsburgh Steelers can sign Le’Veon Bell

Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Antonio Brown reached an agreement on Wednesday. Brown’s contract was restructured, saving $9.7 million is salary cap space. Restructuring the deal gives Pittsburgh exactly enough in cap space to sign Le’Veon Bell. While this deal wasn’t intended to aid in signing Bell long-term, Pittsburgh can now pay Bell the $14.5 million he’s owed for this coming season. Antonio Brown isn’t taking a pay cut either. What the Steelers did was pay him more money upfront. Think of it more as a really large signing bonus.

Before the restructure, Brown was due to earn $17 million in 2018. He’s the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Brown is on of the most dangerous receivers and returners in the NFL. In fact, he’s the only player in the NFL to hit 1,000 receiving and return yards each in a NFL season. The six-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL in 2017 with 1,533 receiving yards. Brown also has five consecutive 100 reception seasons.

Le’Veon Bell was franchised tagged earlier in the week for the second straight year. The high price tag puts Bell as the highest paid running back in the NFL by a large margin. The former second-round pick has been in a contract dispute with the Steelers since last season. A dispute that looks to be nowhere near being settled. After sustaining a season-ending injury in 2015, Bell has rushed for over 1200 yards in back-to-back seasons. He was also the third-best receiver on the team with 655 yards and 85 catches. He’s only 26 years-old so keeping him long-term should be priority. The Steelers offered Bell a contract last season, but it was turned down. He wants a long-term deal, but he wants to get paid too. He’s also threatened to sit out the 2018 NFL season, but that’s highly unlikely.

Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers

Le’Veon Bell finish the 2017 NFL season with 1,949 total yards and 11 total touchdowns. He ran the ball 321 times and caught 85 passes.

Even though Brown isn’t taking less money in his altered deal, it does show his willingness to adjust for the team. Because of this settlement, the Steelers don’t have to make as big of cuts to stay within the salary cap. The goal for Pittsburgh is to keep their offense intact. Along with Brown, they have Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster that will help take double-teams off Bryant. If something happened to where Bell didn’t play, the Steelers would have to rely on Stevan Ridley and James Conner. With several unknowns on the ground, the value of having Bell increases.

Don’t count on Bell sitting out though. He may feel disrespected by the team, but it’s $14.5 million. That’s hard to walk away from. Pittsburgh also has several other big contracts that creates an obstacle. Ben Roethlisberger accounts for over $23 million in cap space each year for the next two seasons. Cameron Heyward and Joe Haden are the defensive players that account for the most. Center, Maurkice Pouncey is the last of the five guys that account for over $10 million in cap space. The Steelers need these guys.  But if they’re going to keep Le’Veon Bell long-term, they have to work out a deal soon. If he produces another stellar campaign in 2018, his value goes up, and so does his cap hit.