By Nick Shook
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The franchise tag deadline passed and a fresh crop of players are set to get paid for one season, but one team had to maneuver to fit all of its salaries under the cap.
Pittsburgh and wide receiver Antonio Brown agreed to a contract restructuring that frees up $9.7 million of space, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Total Access on Wednesday.
It’s no act of charity or a pay cut to keep a teammate, though. Brown’s money is still coming to him, just in one sum — a signing bonus — instead of as part of his base salary. Everyone likes to get paid immediately, right?
The move wasn’t made with the intention of clearing space for a long-term deal for Le’Veon Bell, though. The running back who was hit with the exclusive-rights tag is still looking at playing the 2018 season for a salary of $14.554 million. The only difference is now, Pittsburgh has just enough space to pay that salary for Bell.
We remain at the same standoff between the Steelers and Bell, with neither side blinking and no action beyond Bell signing the tag this summer in sight. All the while, Brown will be standing off to the side, counting the money paid to him well before his first game check of 2018.