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The curious case of Antonio Brown and a $2.5 million roster bonus

Get ready to take your head for a financial spin.

Antonio Brown Watch goes from any new antics to something that got all this madness started in the first place: money. Today we have the curious case of Antonio Brown and the $2.5 million roster bonus he will earn on March 17th if he is on the roster. Get ready for your heads to spin.

On Sunday evening, Pro Football Talk reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers asked Brown to delay his $2.5 million roster bonus. Brown said nuts to that, but this gets a bit complicated on what the bonus was and why he was asked for the delay.

Turns out this $2.5 million roster bonus kicks in on the fifth day of the league year (March 17) and paid out in 17 weekly installments (the course of the season). Of course if he’s traded after that date, his new team would be stuck paying the bonus, but the Steelers would have something leftover: cap numbers. If he’s paid that bonus on that date, the number will be recorded on the Steelers salary cap.

Now you know where we’re going with this.

If that bonus kicks in on that date while Brown is with the Steelers, they won’t have to pay any of it if traded, but the books won’t show that. They’ll show an even larger dead money hit: a grand total in the neighborhood of $23.62 million. Pittsburgh doesn’t want any more money to deal with Brown, hence the request to delay the bonus so they can clear their books of this thing and have the new team not only have the expectation to pay it, but deal with the salary cap implications as well.

But Brown declined a delay, so if the Steelers want to save $2.5 million, they have a deadline: March 17th.

The Steelers are now battling time. On March 17th, Brown’s roster bonus becomes locked in. On the surface, Brown asking for a delay in the $2.5 million seems like the obvious move. But when it’s realized that it was being done so the Steelers could get more dead money off the books and have someone else deal with it, it’s rather interesting that he’s not cooperating. Perhaps a simple month or two delay so that bonus can be on the books of Brown’s new team.

But Brown doesn’t want any of that. So if the Steelers want to not have $2.5 million on their books, $2.5 million they may never even pay, their objective is clear: get Brown out of Pittsburgh before the March 17 deadline.