The last time the New England Patriots played the Pittsburgh Steelers, Antonio Brown was lining up on the other side and caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Three months later, in March, the Steelers traded him to the Oakland Raiders for a third and a fifth-round draft pick. While the relationship seemed to be a harmonious one early on, a weeks-long soap opera erupted in training camp that saw its final chapter written today.
After Brown’s issues with his helmet, his frostbite saga, him not showing up to practice, him showing up to practice, him getting fined for ‘conduct detrimental to the team,’ him emotionally apologizing, and finally releasing a weird video that included a recored phone conversation with head coach Jon Gruden, the 31-year-old turned this whole affair up to 11: earlier today, Brown took to Instagram to demand his release from the Raiders.
According to reports by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Oakland fining Brown voided the guarantees in his contract and his right to termination pay even if he was to be released after Week 1. This, in turn, triggered the wide receiver to voice his displeasure — the second time he took his demands to social media within the last seven months: Brown took to Instagram in February to publish his demands that the Steelers should trade him.
Since then, the Raiders have officially parted ways with him just a few months after acquiring Brown and increasing his salary as part of the transaction — putting an end to one of the whackiest developments and storylines of the summer. Brown has now hit the open market and is free to sign with any team. The natural question that comes up: could that team be the Patriots, who have a history of taking on players as reclamation projects?
The short answer: it is probably not likely right now. The longer answer has been broken down very well by a friend of Pats Pulpit, CLNS Media’s Alex Barth (text adapted from Twitter speak):
The only way I’m bringing in Antonio Brown if I’m the Patriots: I think they need to wait and see what happens to him. If it’s late October/early November and he hasn’t signed, then look into it. Can’t validate his ego by signing him immediately, or he’ll rip the team apart. The key to the Patriots’ reclamation projects (Randy Moss, Corey Dillon, LeGarrette Blount, etc.) is getting players into a mindset that he needs the team more than the team needs him. Brown couldn’t be further from that right now, but if he sits unsigned for a few months, maybe Bill Belichick can convince him. That being said, some dumb team *cough* the Jets *cough* will probably sign him right after he gets cut, legitimize all his nonsense, and ruin their season.
Alex hits the nail on the head, and referring to something Brown has said before: he wants to play on his own terms. If a team signs him — he names the New York Jets as an example — it needs to be aware of that. Likewise, Brown remaining on the open market for some time might change the dynamic and make the Patriots getting involved more likely. That being said, New England operates by its own principles and would not make the same mistakes the Raiders made with Brown.
With all that in mind, if there is one team that would be equipped to handle the seven-time All-Pro and his antics it is the Patriots: the team has some of the strongest leadership in all of football with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady setting their tone with their no-nonsense attitude. Brown could thrive in an environment like this if he wants to. But unless the second happens, the first and a union between the two seems unlikely.
Would you like the Patriots to sign Antonio Brown?
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