The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Antonio Brown this Friday. The one-year deal is reportedly worth just over the league minimum with an additional $1.5 million available in incentives. Notably, this is Brown’s first since September 2019. That deal with the New England Patriots was worth $10 million, although he ultimately played just one game for them. As recently as 2018, Brown was an All-Pro level receiver. After a schism between Brown and the entire Pittsburgh Steelers organization, ego issues with the Oakland Raiders, and sexual assault allegations while with New England, Brown took a tumultuous fall from glory.
BROWN’S CAREER STATS
Following his release from New England, rumors of teams showing interest have popped up monthly. Rumors of teams showing interest in the receiver popped up every month since his release from New England. The Seattle Seahawks, for example, have been emphatically pining for Brown since his departure from the Pats. Brown is joining Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as a third weapon to their already deadly receiving corps. Add in fellow former Patriots Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and Tampa Bay has three of the best NFL players… if it were 2017.
At the very earliest, Brown could debut in Week 9 against division rival New Orleans Saints. In late July the league suspended Brown for burglary and battery charges to which he pled no contest. That suspension still may be extended, pending an ongoing league investigation.
All things considered, this signing comes as quite a surprise. Tampa Bay HC Bruce Arians was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh during Antonio’s rookie and sophomore years and was openly opposed to Brown in the past. As recently as this March, Arians said “It’s not gonna happen,” when asked about Brown signing with the Bucs. “There’s no room. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s just not a fit here. He is too much of a diva.” Arians made it clear he has put his foot down with Brown following the signing. “I don’t foresee any problems,” he said to NBC’s Peter King, “He knows that if there is, it’s a very short-lived contract.”
The Future of AB
After seven weeks, Tampa Bay has the second-highest scoring passing offense. Evans, Gronkowski, and Godwin account for 318, 280, and 279 yards respectively. Sophomore Scott Miller is having a breakout year and leads the team with 365 receiving yards while OJ Howard is just shy of the 150 marks himself. Brown’s addition will decrease the induvial accolades of these receivers but will simultaneously help Tampa further avoid their painstakingly average ground game. From a schematic standpoint, Brown will likely see work in the slot. Evans is the prototypical X-receiver and using Godwin on the inside wastes his elite speed. That is to say Brown will cut into the looks going towards Miller and the tight end pair, although diversifying a receiving group is by no means a bad thing.
With this in mind, future of Antonio Brown is frankly hit or miss. While that may seem like a cop-out, yet he is truly a wildcard. Above all are the attitude and legal issues. Brown claims he’s a changed man and he’s got guys like Brady and Russell Wilson vouching for him. As long as he steers clear of the recklessness and wrongdoing of his past, he can further elevate the best group of receivers in football.
All in all, this is a low-risk move by the Bucs. They’re spending at most $2.55 million on Brownfor one year; $1.05 million if he’s a total flop. In the long run that money isn’t going to any meaningful player, so it is a smart gamble by Tampa Bay.