Mehno: Steelers must hope to get value for AB


PITTSBURGH — The Steelers and Antonio Brown reached an important agreement on Tuesday.

They apparently agreed that Brown shouldn’t play for the Steelers anymore.

At least that was the version Brown released via social media after he and his representatives met with Steelers chairman Art Rooney II and general manager Kevin Colbert in Florida.

So the Steelers will look to trade their best receiver, hoping they can acquire a fair return in the deal and then find a successor in the offseason.

Those tasks won’t be easy, but a trade is the most palatable resolution to Brown’s problems with the team.

At least it came to a face-to-face meeting after nearly two months of Brown’s lack of direct communication. As far as anyone knows, Steelers management didn’t hear from Brown other than through those sometimes bizarre social media posts.

Releasing Brown was not a viable option. The Steelers would still have a substantial salary cap hit and they would get no return. Brown made it clear he was done with Pittsburgh, so expecting him to fulfill the final three years of his existing contract was also unrealistic.

So that leaves a trade as the solution. The NFL scouting combine starts next week, which will give Colbert proximity to all of his peers. That will facilitate trade discussions.

One important detail: The Steelers will handle the negotiations rather that granting permission to Brown and his agent to seek a deal.

Brown apparently thinks a new team will give him a new contract, too. That remains to be seen, but it doesn’t seem likely.

No deal can be finalized until March 13, although agreements can be made before then. The Steelers will want this done sooner rather than later so they can start shaping the 2019 roster in advance of the draft and other off-season activities.

Before the parties parted on Tuesday, Brown and Rooney posed for a photo.

If you’ve seen it, you probably noticed that Rooney doesn’t look especially comfortable in the shot.

That’s the way this whole issue has gone, and it’s not over yet.

Machado to Padres

One of baseball’s high profile free agent campaigns ended Tuesday when San Diego signed Manny Machado for 10 years, $300 million.

There was a time when $300 million could build a new stadium. Now it buys an infielder who publicly admits he doesn’t always give his best effort.

The Padres have accumulated young talent, and they’re hoping those prospects will be ready to pop in the next few years with Machado anchoring the lineup. Question Machado’s dedication, but not his talent. He is solid offensively and defensively, whether he plays shortstop or third base.

The Padres have an odd payroll structure. Last year they paid Eric Hosmer $20 million. They had three other players between $8.25 million and $3.25 million. The rest of their players were under $2 million.

Will it pay off in a division dominated by the filthy-rich Dodgers? Maybe not, but it’s safe to guess the phones were hopping in the Padres’ ticket offices on Tuesday.

So soon?

The upstart Alliance of American Football almost went belly-up before the second week of its inaugural season.

Reports say the league wasn’t going to meet its payroll until an emergency investment $250 million came along.

How does that happen? They started a league and got a TV contract, yet nearly ran out of money after one week of operation?

Doesn’t bode well for the AAF, which was praised as a good idea in this space.

Even if AAF doesn’t make it, spring football has a future. Vince McMahon plans to revive the XFL next year, and McMahon has plenty of money in the bank.

John Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com


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