The Steelers Have Made Antonio Brown The NFL’s Highest-Paid Receiver

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Antonio Brown has himself a new contract from the Pittsburgh Steelers that makes him the NFL’s highest paid wide receiver. Brown’s new deal will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2021 and pay him an average of $17 million per year.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Brown’s contract is front-loaded, with the star receiver making $18.5 million the first three years of the deal and $12.5 million in the final year. That $18.5 million that he will start making in 2018 puts him ahead of Dez Bryant, who will make $17 million with bonuses this year.

The deal is an extension, with his 2017 base salary remaining $4.7 million and making the near $14 million jump for 2018. It’s clear that the chatter around whether Brown’s locker room Facebook Live video from the playoffs that got him in hot water with Mike Tomlin would impact the Steelers’ willingness to sign him was just smoke.

Brown wasn’t the only Steeler locked down on Monday, as Pittsburgh also put the franchise tag on star running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell will have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal or play the 2017 season for the 1-year, approximately $12.7 million franchise tag price (per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert).

Bell and Brown have been two of the league’s most productive players at their respective positions in recent years. Brown led the league in receiving yards in 2014 with 1,698 yards and has had over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of the past three years. Bell has rushed for over 1,250 yards and seven touchdowns in his two healthy seasons since 2014 (he missed 10 games in 2015) and his 1,268 yards was fifth in the league last year.

If Bell is able to land a long-term deal this summer prior to the July deadline, it would give Pittsburgh two All-Pro caliber offensive weapons in their 20s to build around for the foreseeable future.