Just because the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Front Office does not fold like origami and cower in fear of its players cannot truly classify them as “harsh” or anything of the sort. To me and many others, Pittsburgh’s Front Office has employed a stern and sensible approach with their diva-esque pass catcher, and it is Colbert & Co., not #17, which hold the ultimate “Trump Card” in this stand-off. In fact, when one takes a look at the entire scenario, it is Colbert & Co. which could make life exponentially worse for “The No Show Speedster,” and can do so with one simple action because #17 has to sign his tender at some point. The only question now will be: “Will the Steelers’ Front Office resort to playing it if #17 is gone for a lengthy spell away from the club?”
Bench #17 Indefinitely Once He Signs Tender
This move would be the ultimate “pie in the face” “kick to the groin” gesture and I would love nothing more than to see Coach Tomlin administer this awesome form of justice if #17 continues to try to “leverage” his way into whatever it is he wants. Nevertheless, this move should only be employed under the following circumstances:
1. #17 sits out for at least the first half of the season (8+ games)
2. The Steelers’ Offense can make due without him
3. Steelers are entirely out of Postseason chase
4. Fine Having $2.7 Million & Change as a 2012 Sunk Cost
Granted, all of these have yet to happen, only one Preseason game is in the books, and replacing a 2-time Pro Bowler is a pretty tall order. Yet what better way to show “His Greediness” that there are consequences for his actions, and illustrate to him that his behavior has repercussions like riding “The Pine Pony” for the duration of the 2012 campaign.
Moreover, what could #17 do about his benching if it occurred? Seriously, what could he do? With all of the veterans still in the locker-room, and an entire team focused on a postseason push, there is no way #17 could disrupt anything by whining like a 10 year-old without getting slapped upside the head by a guy like Deebo. Or if the circumstances arise where the team is not in any sort of postseason race, why allow him to pad his stats over a short season just to enter Free Agency? He should not be the one benefiting from his actions which were taken at the organization’s expense during a down campaign.
If the Steelers took this specific course of action with #17, he would be out of football for an entire season before he hit the UFA market this upcoming offseason after he signed the tender. Sure, the Steelers could always give #17 the Franchise Tag in 2013, but if the relationship gets this frosty and actions like the one I just mentioned take place, there is no way Pittsburgh will want his sorry behind to return. Let #17 test the Unrestricted Free Agent market next year after he has not played in a meaningful game since January of 2012. Let #17 see what other teams are willing to offer to a Wide Receiver after a year has been erased in the prime of his career. No franchise was willing to spend a 1st Round pick on him as an RFA this past season, so I am almost positive (barring the stupidity of Washington and Dallas) no franchise will sign him for even Antonio Brown money come March of 2013.
Would a move such as this one be rather under-handed and low for such a classy franchise like the Steelers? Sure, just a bit. But you know what else is cold-hearted? Turning down a contract extension, sitting out and not signing an RFA tender, not contacting the G.M., all of which while a new Offensive system is being installed. Ultimately, a message like this one mentioned above would reverberate all over the N.F.L., because it would show each and every player that the Steelers’ Front Office is not to be trifled with and must be treated with respect in each and all instances. They will not cower to anybody and make offers which they feel are at market value for a player’s skill-set and potential.
If you have not already gathered, I find #17’s recent actions regarding his contract somewhat childish and in a way downright ridiculous. Considering the circumstances of how the Steelers’ Front Office reached out to him about a contract extension (apparently worth $50 million), did not lower his RFA tender when they could have, and did so when the team was (and is) in “Salary Cap Hell on Earth,” it just makes my stomach turn.
And for those of you saying “Pay the Man” or he “is doing what anybody would do,” let me get this off my chest. First, to simply sign a tender worth $2.7 million while a long-term deal is worked out is not that difficult a task, especially when one has almost zero leverage whatsoever in the matter and is ignorant enough to believe that it is true. Second and most importantly, there are countless people in this country out of work or who have been out of work for extended periods during this recession, and numerous others which have to work day-labor and labor-intensive jobs which would never see the type of coin on the RFA tender in their entire lives.
In fact, almost all, if not all of them probably will never see that amount of money combined for their work in their lifetime. (let alone the apparent contract which was offered to him). And when a person like #17 apparently turns down offers of that caliber, he is not likely to win the hearts and minds of fans of his team. I am sure he could care less about what the fans think, but if he makes his debut in Weeks 8-10, he might get sick of the cascades of “Boos” which raining down upon him from his home crowd. Hey, I am all for marketing oneself for higher wages/salaries, it would be un-American to not do so if one has the leverage to make it happen. But that is the ultimate kicker: #17 is facing off against the Steelers’ Front Office, a battle he simply cannot win, and others like Ike Taylor and Jerome Bettis find is a fight foolish to pick in the first place.
While I do not believe the Steelers will go to such extremes as the one I mentioned above to punish a player for an action such as not signing an RFA tender, I do hope Pittsburgh puts the proverbial “heat” on #17 if he continues his behavior into the regular season. Whether they sign a veteran like Plaxico Burress, get Heath Miller or some of the Rookies like Toney Clemons or Marquis Maze more reps and chances to catch the ball, or even bench #17 outright, this franchise needs to (and will) show that #17′s consequences have actions. The only questions now are: “How much longer will #17 remain absent?” and “Will the Steelers make him pay dearly for his actions if they choose to do it?”.
What say you readers: Are you sick of #17′s actions? What should the organization do about him? Should they resort to benching him if he is gone for an extended period? Is $2.7 million dollars too high a price tag for revenge? Share your thoughts, comments, questions, and concerns.