Questions have arisen over Antonio Brown‘s future with the Buccaneers after comments made by head coach Bruce Arians. Brown and safety Mike Edwards recently received a three-game ban following a report indicating that Brown had acquired a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that when asked if Brown and Edwards will remain on the team after their suspension is over, Arians answered, “We’ll address their future at that time,” fueling speculation that there may be reason to doubt their current job safety. When asked to clarify his comments, Arians doubled down, stating, “Nothing’s been decided, no.”
The four-time First-team All-Pro has had his share of controversies over an eleven-year career in the NFL. When Brown was signed to a free agent deal with the Buccaneers, Arians commented that, despite entering the NFL midway through the 2020 season, he didn’t anticipate any issues with Brown having to deal with the COVID-19 protocols. Arians also indicated that Tampa Bay wouldn’t hesitate to get rid of Brown were he to return to his controversial behavior, saying, “He’s been a model citizen, if and when he’s not, we’ll move on.”
The star wide receiver has been impressive this year in the five games he’s played, totaling 42 catches for 418 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown’s decision to accept his suspension without an appeal was an easy one, as he was expected to miss two more games anyway with an ankle injury, and he was lucky for a shorter suspension, considering the league was looking into a suspension around 6-8 games.
It will be interesting to see how Arians and the Buccaneers proceed with handling Brown and Edwards. Arians was one of the more vocal and proud coaches in his team’s efforts to get to 100% vaccination status. Both Brown and Edwards have since been vaccinated, but the damage may already be done.