Steelers, Antonio Brown agree to 5-year contract; Bell franchise tagged

Posted on Feb 27 2017 - 6:00pm by Rachael McKriger
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The man said it himself: Antonio Brown will be a “Steeler for life.”

Brown agreed to a five-year contract with the Steelers on Monday evening. According to multiple sources, Brown’s deal is for five years and worth $72.71 million. The Steelers released a statement on Brown, spoken by President Art Rooney II.

“Antonio is a good guy, a good person,” said Art Rooney II after the season. “I enjoy our personal relationship. His teammates like to have him on the team. He is a hard worker. AB is a big contributor to our success, has been for several years now, and I think he’s capable of continuing to be that kind of player. I think he’s someone who wants to be a great player and works hard to be that. Hopefully, he’ll continue to evolve as a player and as a person.”

This past season, Brown started the 15 games he appeared in, catching 106 passes for 1,284 yards. He scored 12 touchdowns in the air, which led the team, and carried the ball a total of three times. In 2016, he became the first player in team history to record 100 receptions in four straight seasons, according to the Steelers.

Either way, that’s just one of many accolades that Brown has to his name. His most memorable accolade came when he became the first player in NFL history to lead his conference in receptions in four straight seasons.

“He has big play written all over him and it can happen at any time,” said former Steeler, John Stallworth, of Brown. “One of the philosophies we had that Chuck Noll taught us was a big play can happen at any time and don’t be surprised when it happens. With Antonio you have a big play waiting to happen any time he touches the ball, whether it’s a short pass or a long pass, catching a short one and turning it into a big one or on punt returns. He is a big play ready to happen. He is somebody opposing defenses have to take into account and believe me he probably scares the dickens out of them.”

The team also secured another player: running back Le’Veon Bell.

Bell was franchise tagged by the Steelers. In 2016, he missed the first three games, but finished the regular season starting all 12 games he appeared in. Bell rushed for 1,268 yards on 261 carries. He recorded seven rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns.

His most impressive performance came against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14. Bell rushed for 236 yards on 38 carries, which broke the Steelers single-game record of rushing and most career-high carries.

“Understanding of the game, not necessarily what it is he does, but how it fits in the bigger picture,” said Mike Tomlin, of Bell. “The intellectual conversations with him are much different today than they were then. Just understanding how to play the position, the nuances of the position, the protection of the ball, the protection of himself. He is a guy that has got some talent, but equally or more important than that he has a desire to be great and a work ethic to boot. He is a much better conditioned athlete today that he was in 2014. I mean it when I say all areas.”

“We always knew he had an awesome talent for running the ball, but I think what is most impressive is his blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield,” said Ben Roethlisberger. “He is an every down back and we can use him for every situation. I think that is what is most impressive.”