Rooney said the door isn't completely closed on Brown returning to the Steelers next year, though he would have to address his late-season behavior with his teammates.
"We have left everything open at this point," Rooney said. "There aren't that many signs out there that's going to happen."
Brown all but exiled himself from Pittsburgh by refusing to practice ahead of a must-win game in Week 17. Rooney previously acknowledged that the seven-time Pro Bowler will likely be playing elsewhere by the time training camp rolls around.
Brown has provided the Steelers with several headaches over the last nine years. He reportedly threw a football at quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during an altercation at practice the week he left the Steelers, and he was disciplined in Week 3 for failing to report to the team facility on a Monday following a loss.
However, he's also put together a Hall of Fame-caliber career in the Steel City. He led all receivers with 15 touchdown catches in 2018 while surpassing 1,000 yards for the sixth straight campaign.
"I am not going to sit here and disparage Antonio," said Rooney. "You have to remember that he has been one of the most productive receivers in the league for a long time now. He has helped us win a lot of games the last few years. Was it always done the way you like to see it done? No."
The 66-year-old noted that Brown was paid for the final week of the season despite leaving the team midweek. Brown did show up at the stadium on Sunday and made himself available for the game, though head coach Mike Tomlin scratched him from the lineup.
"He probably did what he needed to do to avoid his last check being voided," Rooney said, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.
The San Francisco 49ers have been most heavily linked to Brown in trade rumors.