When it comes to dealing with Antonio Brown, the Steelers have options. Brown has options, too.
Although he lamented earlier today that the system gives players no leverage, he can still express preferences and/or pursue strategies. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Brown currently is exploring his options.
He has several. Brown can decide to re-embrace the only team for which he has ever played (if that team still wants him) and continue to show up and perform under a contract that pays out nearly $39 million over the next three years, although none of the money is guaranteed. He can officially ask for a trade. (When coach Mike Tomlin said this week that Brown hasn’t “formally” requested a trade, Tomlin possibly implied that an informal request has been made.)
Things get interesting if the Steelers decline to trade him. The acknowledgement that the system gives Brown no leverage arguably means that he wouldn’t hold out or otherwise jeopardize the money he’s due to make this year (more than $15 million) or the unearned signing bonus money he received two years ago (more than $11 million).