- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Pittsburgh Steelers signed a wide receiver to a new deal, but it's not the one you're expecting.
The Steelers reached a five-year extension with Antonio Brown that could keep him with the team through the 2017 season. The NFL Network is reporting that the total value of the deal is $42.5 million.
This is a shrewd move on a couple of fronts. The extension allows the Steelers to keep a rising playmaker at a good price. It keeps Brown from becoming a restricted free agent next year. And it sends a strong message to Mike Wallace.
The Steelers are currently in a stalemate with Wallace, their No. 1 receiver, who has refused to sign his $2.7 million restricted-free-agent tender and is holding out. That led the Steelers to cut off talks with Wallace until he reports. Pittsburgh is essentially telling Wallace that it was willing to talk to Brown because he's in camp.
“We are excited to announce that Antonio Brown will be with the team through at least the 2017 season,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. “He has played a major role in our success over the past two years and we are thrilled he will be a Steeler for many years to come.”
The Steelers' mess with Wallace shouldn't overshadow their deal with Brown. In his second season with the team, the sixth-round pick was voted the Steelers' Most Valuable Player (the one selected by teammates). He went from being a projected No. 3 receiver to the team's hottest playmaker by the end of the season.
What makes Brown stand out is the fact that he's the first player in NFL history to produce over 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 return yards in the same season. He was recently ranked No. 22 in the AFC North blog's Top 25 players in 2012.