But I will say all other options are on the table.
With the team scraping every penny together to find cap room to finally address some obvious deficiencies on defense since the loss of Ryan Shazier 13 months ago, throwing $21 million down the drain by moving on from Brown might not be an immediate option the Steelers are interested in navigating. It was initially ruled as a knee injury, but reports later surfaced that an internal turmoil with Brown was the cause of his absence. Brown enters the third year of a five-year, $72.7-million extension signed before the 2017 season.
"That has to be taken into consideration, but, as I sit here today, I'm not going to say that's going to box us into anything", Rooney told Dulac. He is owed $22,165,000 against the cap next season and due a $2.5 million bonus on March 17.
Still, another team must meet the Steelers' asking price for any theoretical trade, and it's no guarantee one will step up at the right return.
In 15 games, Brown recorded 1,297 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, setting a new team record for majors. You'd be hard-pressed to imagine the Steelers trading Brown inside the division, even if there will be discussions in a lot of front offices around the league about the pros and cons of making an offer.
The 30-year-old Brown has fueled speculation that he wants out of Pittsburgh since the end of the campaign by posting photos of Rice from his 49ers days on social media.
Brown has not formally requested a trade. There's plenty to sort out with the team in general after missing the postseason, and the recent rash of drama that has inflicted it the past few years clearly has had an effect on the on-field product.
"We'll see how things play out", Rooney said.
He already let outside linebackers coach Joey Porter and running backs coach James Saxon go, and offensive line coach Mike Munchak is a finalist for the Broncos head coaching job.