The Pittsburgh Steelers made Antonio Brown the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL Monday, inking the 28-year-old to a five-year deal worth $73 million contract that will have a trickle down effect on the Eagles and the rest of the NFL with free agency looming.
There had been rumblings that the Steelers would look to trade or even release Brown after he recorded a Facebook Live video in the locker room following a playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and the Eagles might have him in their cross-hairs. Obviously, Monday's news can officially end any speculation of Brown moving across the Keystone State.
However, with Brown now signed, sealed and delivered by the Steelers, the free agency market can now be set.
Brown's contract could determine the going rate for the top free agents at the wide receiver position such as Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills who all have been linked to the Eagles in various reports.
It was reported Thursday that the Bears are not likely to use the franchise tag on Jeffery, but given the abundance of cap space across the NFL he could command upwards of $18 million per season.
Stills or Jeffery to Eagles?
Meanwhile, Jackson should be an attractive consolation prize to Brown and has already been linked to the Buccaneers, Eagles and several other teams if the Redskins opt not to bring him back next season. It isn't out of the question that Jackson could fetch between $11-$14 million on the open market when the new league-year begins on March 9.
Finally, the Eagles could be the front-runner to land the 24-year-old Stills. Multiple reports suggest that Stills' value could be pushed north of $12 million, depending on how many teams come knocking if the Dolphins allow him to reach free agency.
While Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson and the Eagles aim to bolster the wide receiver position to give quarterback Carson Wentz a game-changing weapon or two this offseason, finding one in free agency likely became much more difficult following Monday's news. As of Monday, the Eagles have approximately $10 million in cap space but could free up more spending flexibility if the team opts to move on from veterans such as Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce, Ryan Mathews, Mychal Kendricks and others.
If the Eagles are unable to land one of the top free agents at the positions, wide receivers such as Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis and Washington's John Ross could prove to be attractive options in the first round of April's NFL Draft.
Matt Lombardo may be reached at MDLombardo@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattLombardo975.
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