The last time Antonio Brown set foot on the gridiron came in September 2019, when he caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown as a member of the New England Patriots. Despite his promising debut, however, the talented wide receiver did not last and was released shortly thereafter following reports about sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Following his release from the Patriots a mere five days after his debut, Brown remained unsigned while having some turbulent months — form his legal battle that ensued after those accusations, to announcing his retirement and return on more than one occasion, to getting suspended for the first eight weeks of the 2020 season. Now, the 32-year-old has made the new again: as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he is returning to the NFL.
Which team is willing to take the risk of picking up the talented but troubled pass catcher? None other than that of long-time Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady and Brown, of course, know each other from their time in New England where the two built an immediate connection that was abruptly cut short by the team’s decision to part ways with the veteran receiver not even two weeks into his tenure. After leaving the Patriots to join the Buccaneers, the future Hall of Fame quarterback reportedly lobbied for his new team to pick Brown up and it now seems as if he has gotten his wish.
This is quite the change of course from Tampa Bay’s perspective, considering statements made by head coach Bruce Arians as recently as March.
“It’s not gonna happen,” he said about signing the then-free agent. “There’s no room, you know? Probably not enough money. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s just not a fit here. ... I just know him, and it’s not a fit in our locker room.”
Arians knows a thing or two about Brown from the two seasons they spent together with the Pittsburgh Steelers — the former was the team’s offensive coordinator, the latter a sixth-round draft pick trying to make a name for himself. He did just that by establishing himself as one of the NFL’s best and most productive wide receivers. However, Brown exited Pittsburgh on bad terms and also was unable to last in Oakland and New England.
Now, he is getting a new chance in Tampa Bay to reconnect with the last quarterback to throw him the football in an NFL game.