Brown, Bell are secure, so fix the ‘D’

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — Before they made Antonio Brown the highest paid player in the NFL, you have to believe the Steelers made some demands of their own.

To sum it up simply, they probably made it clear they don’t want any more knuckleheaded behavior.

No webcasts from the locker room. No over-the-top touchdown celebrations that cost the team 15 yards on the ensuing kickoffs. In other words, grow up.

If you’re going to commit $72 million to a player, that isn’t too much to ask.

Now that Brown is signed to a five-year extension and Le’Veon Bell’s status has been cemented with the franchise player tag for 2017, the Steelers are free to get to work on their defense.

Improving the defense now becomes their top priority as they try to figure ways to get past the AFC Championship game.

The offense will need a new back-up running back and could use depth at receiver, but the major pieces are there.

That’s not the case on defense, which needs a significant pass rusher and more help for the secondary.

Thumbs down?

Hard to believe, but there’s been considerable negative reaction to Brown’s signing.

Yes, he does some incredibly dumb things. But he works hard, hasn’t been in trouble with the law, and is at minimum one of the top three receivers in the NFL.

On top of that, the Steelers aren’t exactly overloaded with alternatives at receiver.

A lot of people want their sports stars to be like Heath Miller, and there’s merit in that. Miller avoided the spotlight as avidly as Brown seeks it.

How can anyone deny Brown’s talent?

Deadline day

The NHL trade deadline arrives at 3 o’clock this afternoon, and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will be working the phones right until the last minute.

The Penguins could use more depth help on defense. They appear to be fine at forward, and their goaltending tandem of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury should stay intact.

Rutherford has said repeatedly he thinks the best approach for the Penguins is to keep Fleury so they have two reliable goaltenders heading into the playoffs.

If Fleury were traded (without a goalie in return), the Penguins would be relying on rookie Tristan Jarry to back up Murray.

That would be too risky a proposition.

There’s also a question of how much of a market there is for Fleury. He has a big contract that other teams might not want to take.

His play has been ordinary this season as he’s struggled to adapt to the back-up role.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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