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Report: Tomlin told players Brown will be gone when his production goes down

Steelers team president Art Rooney II seemingly softened his stance on Antonio Brown, but Mike Florio wonders if this is due to the lack of trade interest for the disgruntled WR.

Mike Tomlin has reportedly been telling Steelers players for years that he’ll tolerate wide receiver Antonio Brown only so long as he’s playing at an All-Pro level.

A new report from ESPN says that Tomlin was sick and tired of Brown’s chronic tardiness, and told other players it would be addressed -- just as soon as Brown stopped playing like one of the best wide receivers in football.

"[Tomlin] essentially told the group, we’ll tolerate it now because of what he brings on the field, but the minute production stops, you don’t overlook it,” one unnamed ex-Steeler said.

If that’s the case, it was foolish of the Steelers to give Brown the four-year, $68 million extension he got two years ago. If the Steelers were already preparing for a time when Brown became more trouble than he was worth, they shouldn’t have given him a big new deal that made him more expensive -- and harder to move on from once they decided they couldn’t take it anymore.

But ESPN says it has confirmed with nearly 20 current or former Steelers that it’s been an ongoing problem with Brown, and that the team always knew it wasn’t going to last long.

“This has been brewing for years,” one ex-teammate said. “It’s just now coming to the surface. And it’s probably over.”

Brown’s production is still quite good -- he had 104 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 games last season -- but it now appears that even at the level he’s producing, the Steelers have had enough.