Antonio Brown

NFC South Notes: AB, Bridgewater, Saints

Antonio Brown being accused of vandalizing a security camera has placed the Buccaneers in a bit of hot water, but Bruce Arians confirmed the team knew about this alleged incident before signing him. The second-year Bucs HC reiterated during an interview with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (audio link) that Brown not being a model citizen will result in his release. “He’s been a model citizen,” Arians said Thursday, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I think we’re beating a dead horse right now, so there’s been enough statements about it.” Arians said in March that Brown would not be a fit with the Bucs, but Tom Brady pushed for the team to make the move. Through two games with the Bucs, AB has 10 catches for 100 yards.

The NFL was not made aware of this incident before the Bucs signed Brown, who was not charged due to the homeowners association not pressing charges. The league, per Laine, is now looking into the matter, which could be determined as a violation of Brown’s probation. Although the NFL handed Brown an eight-game suspension, the league could move to levy another ban depending on the outcome of Britney Taylor’s civil suit. Taylor’s three-page affidavit alleges Brown raped her. The controversial wideout is again part of a multifront NFL investigation.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Teddy Bridgewater is now expected to join Christian McCaffrey in not suiting up for the Panthers‘ Week 11 game. Carolina’s QB1 has practiced on a limited basis this week, with Matt Rhule labeling him “extremely limited,” and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets the team is expected to require one of its backup passers to start against the Lions. Bridgewater suffered an MCL injury in the fourth quarter of the Panthers’ loss to the Buccaneers. XFL 2.0 standout P.J. Walker has replaced Bridgewater twice this season, but both he and 2019 third-round pick Will Grier have worked as the Panthers’ game-day backup. They have split reps in practice this week, and Rhule — via ESPN.com’s David Newton — declined to say who would start if Bridgewater cannot go.
  • If the 2021 salary cap comes in at that $175MM floor, the Saints are projected to be a whopping $95MM over that salary ceiling. While the Mickey Loomis-led operation annually finds a way to navigate cap issues, this would be new territory. This situation has flummoxed several execs around the league, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who adds the current NFL management council cap figure being used for projections ($198MM) is much higher than where the actual number is expected to land. Multiple GMs expect the cap to come in around $175MM, which would mark by far the biggest reduction in the cap’s 28-year history and create tremendous issues for the Saints and a few other teams.
  • Drew Brees is expected to be out at least two games, though the future Hall of Fame quarterback has sought additional opinions this week. He is believed to have cracked at least five ribs.

Bucs’ Antonio Brown Accused Of Vandalism

Antonio Brown was recently accused of destroying a surveillance camera in his gated community in Florida (via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald). The alleged incident took place before Brown joined the Buccaneers. It’s not immediately clear whether the Bucs were informed of the matter at the time of signing, but they are aware of the matter now.

We are aware of the reported incident involving Antonio Brown prior to his signing,” the Bucs said in a statement. “When Antonio joined us, we were clear about what we expected and required of him. Thus far, he has met all the expectations we have in place.”

It’s worth noting that the homeowners association declined to press charges for the mid-October incident, though the board’s president says she feared possible retaliation. The allegations are troubling given Brown’s extensive history of off-the-field trouble, though it pales in comparison to everything else on his rap sheet. Ultimately, the Buccaneers are unlikely to discipline Brown in connection with this issue, but the league office may look into it. Per the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL has the authority to fine or suspend players for conduct violations, even when the justice system is not involved.

Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, caught seven passes for 69 yards on Sunday as the Bucs trounced the Panthers. It was a step-up from his Nov. 8 debut against the Saints — Brown had 3 catches for 31 yards in the blowout loss.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Notes: Brown, David, Mickens

Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown caught three passes for 31 yards in his Tampa Bay debut last week, a shocking 38-3 defeat to the Saints. And while he tries to focus on returning to form on the field, his ongoing civil case continues to evolve. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Britney Taylor, who has sued Brown for sexual assault and rape, has filed a motion seeking to amend her complaint to include a claim for punitive damages (Twitter link).

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details, Taylor filed a three-page affidavit along with the motion reiterating her allegations. She avers that in June 2017, Brown masturbated in her presence and ejaculated on her back without her knowledge or consent, and that he raped her less than a year later.

The trial is presently set for December, but it is likely that it will be postponed, which means that Brown will be available for Tampa Bay through the end of the season and into the playoffs. However, the league has consistently maintained that it will suspend Brown again for any evidence that comes to light as a result of the litigation, and if a jury ultimately finds that Brown committed the offenses that Taylor alleges, the NFL will almost certainly levy additional punishment. But by that time, the Bucs may no longer be interested in Brown’s services.

Now for more on the Bucs:

  • Tampa’s loss to the Saints has triggered a shakeup to the team’s O-line. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was first to report (via Twitter), the club is shifting Ryan Jensen from center to left guard, while A.Q. Shipley — a longtime favorite of HC Bruce Arians — will get the nod at center. As James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, there was significant miscommunication last week between LT Donovan Smith and LG Joe Haeg, which led to the change. Regular LG Ali Marpet is still sidelined with a concussion.
  • The Bucs were said to be exploring an extension for LB Lavonte David this summer, and the last we heard, the two sides had not made much progress. Greg Auman of The Athletic says both player and team still want to continue their relationship, but with a number of players eligible for free agency this offseason, Tampa cannot just write a blank check (Twitter link).
  • Return specialist Jaydon Mickens was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, but it sounds like he was in contact with someone who tested positive and did not test positive himself. Mickens took to Instagram to say “I ain’t hurt. Ain’t nothing wrong with me. If you don’t understand why I ain’t playing, just go look it up. It’s some bulls—. But look, we’re about to go ahead and win this game” (h/t Jenna Laine of ESPN.com on Twitter). Assuming he did not test positive, Mickens could be back on the field next week.
  • DC Todd Bowles has drawn rave reviews for his work with the Bucs’ defense, and for good reason. His unit ranked sixth in defensive efficiency in 2019 and is currently the top defense in the league in that metric for 2020, despite last week’s blowout loss. Although Bowles was ousted as the Jets’ HC following the 2018 season, league-wide respect for his abilities did not diminish, and as Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes, there were eight teams interested in his services before he joined the Bucs. If his defenses continue performing at a high level, he could get another crack as a head coach in the near future.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Thomas, McCaffrey

Not that much doubt existed as to why Antonio Brown is in Tampa, but the Buccaneers indeed reversed course on the volatile wide receiver because Tom Brady pushed for the signing, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes. Brown is living with Brady, who insisted to Buccaneers brass he would work with the former All-Pro daily to ensure he does not become a problem for the organization.

Brady told them he is going to make sure this is not a problem,” a source with knowledge of this process told La Canfora. “He guaranteed BA (Bruce Arians) that he would make sure this guy did everything he has to do, even if Brady has to drive him there himself. And (the Bucs) made it clear to Brady that Brown is on a very short leash. If he (slips up), he’s gone.”

Brown went from potential first-ballot Hall of Famer to the epicenter of numerous controversies last year, but Brady expressed disappointment the Patriots released him after one game. Arians said in March that Brown would not be a fit with the Bucs. They activated him this week; Brown will debut for a third team Sunday against the Saints.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Staying on the subject of availability for the biggest game in the history of the Saints-Bucs series, Michael Thomas is finally on track to return to action. The All-Pro wide receiver, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury against the Bucs in Week 1, is on track to be back in action Sunday night, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. Thomas has missed six games due to ankle and hamstring injuries and for striking a teammate. Emmanuel Sanders also practiced Friday, putting the veteran No. 2 wideout in line to play Sunday. Sanders missed two games after contracting the coronavirus.
  • In this suddenly intergalactic matchup of receiving corps, Chris Godwin will be back as well. Arians said Friday the fourth-year target will be back after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. Godwin has missed time due to three separate issues this season, and given that doctors told him he would face a four- to six-week recovery timetable — per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter — his return will be worth monitoring. Doctors inserting pins into Godwin’s damaged index finger opened the door for him to miss just one game, Schefter adds.
  • Keeping with the “return to action” theme here, Christian McCaffrey‘s six-week hiatus is expected to end. The All-Pro Panthers back will be activated ahead of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, per Matt Rhule. McCaffrey has been sidelined since Week 2 because of a high ankle sprain.
  • Calvin Ridley is battling a mid-foot sprain, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link), and is questionable to face the Broncos on Sunday. Ridley left the Falcons’ Week 8 win with the foot malady.

Buccaneers Activate Antonio Brown

AB is officially set to debut for TB. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers activated Antonio Brown off of the reserve/suspended list. To make room, they’ve waived fellow wide receiver Cyril Grayson

[Poll: Will The Bucs Regret Signing Brown?]

Brown, who is currently bunking up with quarterback Tom Brady, has been drawing rave reviews in practice. Meanwhile, many in the football world have expressed skepticism about his potential impact in the locker room.

“Mark my words, it’s going to be a problem,” one executive familiar with Brown said recently. “You have no idea the stories we could tell you about this guy. Everything is a struggle. … There were plenty of valid reasons why [Arians] didn’t want anything to do with him a year ago. Unless this guy has completely reinvented himself, and done a complete turnaround, this is going to get ugly.”

Brown, 32, will just $1MM in base salary and bonuses, with the potential to make as much as $2.5MM. If the Bucs win the Super Bowl, AB will receive a $750K bonus, and he has three separate $250K bonuses for receptions, yards, and TD milestones. Those incentives are only in play if the Bucs reach the playoffs.

The Buccaneers advanced to 6-2 after edging out the Giants on Monday night. Brown’s new squad will fight to stay atop the NFC South this week when they take on the Saints, who are riding a four-game winning streak.

Packers Expressed Interest In Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown has, of course, been reunited with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. But before he signed the Buccaneers apparently weren’t the only NFC contender to express interest. 

The Packers made a call and “checked in” with Brown to “see if he would have any interest in going to Green Bay,” Adam Schefter of ESPN.com said Monday during an appearance on the Pat McAfee show (Twitter video link). Schefter makes clear that nothing was ever particularly close to happening, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Schefter reported a couple of weeks ago that a number of teams were digging into him, and it sounds like the Packers were one of those.

The Seahawks publicly acknowledged their interest a couple of times, and before now they were the only other identified suitor. Green Bay has struggled to find a consistent number two option in their passing game behind Davante Adams, so their interest makes sense.

The Packers are widely believed to be poking around available receivers ahead of tomorrow’s trade deadline, and they reportedly inquired on the Texans’ Will Fuller recently. It looks like Brown’s first choice was always to join Brady in Tampa, and nothing was going to sway him off that.Depending on how the embattled former All-Pro pans out with the Bucs, Packers fans will either be bummed they missed out or relieved that they dodged a bullet.

The Packers aren’t known as an organization that likes to take the most risks, and the fact that they reached out at all is a sign of the slightly more aggressive path new GM Brian Gutekunst has chosen after taking over a couple of seasons ago. Brown is eligible to make his 2020 debut this coming week against he Saints on Sunday Night Football after completing his eight-game suspension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will The Buccaneers Regret Signing Antonio Brown?

Bruce Arians said it would never happen. Tom Brady never stopped pushing. Ultimately, the future Hall of Famer got his way — the Buccaneers inked Antonio Brown to a one-year deal this week, equipping Brady with the most talented group of targets he’s ever had.

He looks fantastic,” Arians said of Brown, following his first practice in Tampa (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine). “I think we had really good conversations today, he and I. He was in the meetings and everything. And he’s working with…the strength staff. He looks in great shape. Yeah, [he’ll be] ready to go next week.”

The Bucs are hoping that Brown can quickly shed the rust as Chris Godwin recovers from finger surgery. Godwin might not be available for their Week 9 contest against the Saints, setting the stage for Brown to make an impact in his return game.

At the same time, many feel that Brown’s volatility will ultimately backfire on the Buccaneers, who currently lead the NFC South with a 5-2 record.

“Mark my words, it’s going to be a problem,” said one anonymous executive who has worked with Brown. “You have no idea the stories we could tell you about this guy. Everything is a struggle. … There were plenty of valid reasons why [Arians] didn’t want anything to do with him a year ago. Unless this guy has completely reinvented himself, and done a complete turnaround, this is going to get ugly.”

Will Brown’s baggage ultimately outweigh his upside? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Officially Sign Antonio Brown

It’s a done deal. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers formally inked Antonio Brown to a one-year contract, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

[RELATED: Reactions To Antonio Brown Signing With Buccaneers]

Brown is officially in the fold, though he won’t be eligible to play until Week 9. His one-year pact will pay just $1MM in base salary and bonuses, with the potential to reach as much as $2.5MM. If the Bucs win the Super Bowl, AB will receive a $750K bonus, and he has three separate $250K bonuses for receptions, yards, and TD milestones. Those incentives are only in play if the Bucs reach the playoffs.

Brown, 32, will be eligible to join the club at their team facility on Wednesday, once he’s cleared COVID-19 testing. He can’t practice until Week 9, but he can attend meetings and train with the team’s conditioning staff in the interim.

There was pushback, but Tom Brady talked Tampa Bay into adding the multiple-time Pro Bowler. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians was insistent that the team would not add Brown. Ultimately, Brady got his way.

The Bucs didn’t necessarily need Brown a few months ago, given their wealth of receiving talent. However, injuries for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, and O.J. Howard changed things. There’s reason to worry about the balance of the locker room with Brown, though offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote all played with the mercurial veteran. There’s hope that, together, they can keep Brown on the right track.

On the field, Brady arguably has the best receiving cast of his career. With Godwin, Evans and Rob Gronkowski, the future Hall of Famer has a wealth of weapons at his disposal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More On Buccaneers, Antonio Brown

Details are in on Antonio Brown‘s contract with the Buccaneers. His one-year pact will be worth up to $2.5MM, but only $1MM of that is in the form of base salary and roster bonuses. If Tampa wins the Super Bowl, AB will receive a $750K bonus, and he has three separate $250K bonuses for receptions, yards, and TD milestones. However, not only does Brown need to hit those individual marks to cash in, the Bucs need to qualify for the playoffs (Twitter links via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com).

Schefter adds (via Twitter) that Brown will officially sign the contract tomorrow. As Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets, the 32-year-old receiver will be able to enter the team facility Wednesday, after he has cleared COVID-19 testing. Although his eight-game suspension means that he will not be permitted to practice until November 3, the start of Week 9, Brown can attend meetings and train with the team’s strength and conditioning staff.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterates that Tom Brady was the driving force behind the Brown signing. Brady, of course, pushed for the Patriots to acquire Brown last year, and though New England released AB after just one game, Brady again lobbied the team to re-sign him in advance of the playoffs.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians — who is familiar with Brown from their time together in Pittsburgh — had repeatedly stated that Tampa would not be acquiring the mercurial All-Pro, and he wasn’t the only team official to express those sentiments. Brady eventually got his way, though plenty are skeptical that Brown will be able to toe the line.

“Mark my words, it’s going to be a problem,” said one executive who has significant experience with Brown. “You have no idea the stories we could tell you about this guy. Everything is a struggle. … There were plenty of valid reasons why [Arians] didn’t want anything to do with him a year ago. Unless this guy has completely reinvented himself, and done a complete turnaround, this is going to get ugly.”

A coach who has worked with Brown said, “All the reasons [Arians] didn’t want this guy a year ago, he knows what’s up with him. And that was before COVID. The stuff he’d do all the time in Pittsburgh — he’d go AWOL, not show up, have no idea where he is … that could (mess up) the entire team, now.”

It does seem like a big gamble for a team that has plenty of receiving talent already, though since the Bucs’ cadre of pass catchers has dealt with a number of injuries this year, it’s easy to see why the club would have interest in reinforcing that group. But from a legal perspective, Brown is not out of the woods just yet. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reminds us, the civil suit that Britney Taylor filed against Brown for sexual assault and rape is set for December, and Brown is due to furnish Taylor’s attorney with complete discovery next week (Brown has received multiple extensions of the discovery deadline).

Developments in that case may trigger additional sanctions from the league, though Brown’s attorneys could request a postponement of an trial in an effort to avoid such sanctions impacting his availability for the Bucs this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Antonio Brown Signing With Buccaneers

Antonio Brown is officially a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the two sides have finalized a one-year contract. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that the deal is worth slightly more than a minimum salary, although there are per-game roster bonuses, individual incentives, and team incentives.

Besides Brown’s continued antics over the past year-plus, it’s not overly surprising that he had to settle for this kind of incentive-laden deal. Bruce Arians had previously dealt with Brown when he was the wide receivers coach in Pittsburgh, and the Buccaneers head coach had consistently stated that the Bucs wouldn’t be signing the wideout. Perhaps the low-risk contract has partly swayed Arians’ opinion.

One individual who was clamoring for Brown was Tom Brady. The quarterback is signed through the 2021 season, so if the wide receiver is a productive member of the offense, there’s a chance he could stick around beyond the 2020 campaign.

Here’s some more news and notes pertaining to the AB signing:

  • ESPN’s Jenna Laine writes that Brown’s signing is all about maximizing Brady’s window. While Arians may have previously been against adding the wideout, Laine believes Tampa Bay’s continued offensive injuries (a list that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, and O.J. Howard) may have changed his mind. Plus, Laine writes that the “feeling inside the organization” is that Arians has a strong personality that can keep Brown in line, and there’s also Brady’s positive influence. The writer also points out that Brown was teammates with three members of the coaching staff: offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote.
  • Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic wonders why the Buccaneers are taking the unnecessary risk of signing Brown. Tampa Bay is leading the NFC in point differential, and while that has mostly been thanks to the defense, the offense has been plenty competent. Brown’s talent means he could naturally provide the passing game with a significant boost, but Kapadia thinks it’s more likely that “he’ll be a problem.”
  • Here’s a fun one for fans of conspiracies. Following public reports of the Seahawks interest in Brown, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wonders why Seattle let that information leak in the first place. One argument could be made that the Seahawks “recklessly invited a competitor to swoop in” and sign the wideout, while another argument could be made that the Seahawks deliberately leaked the news. Why would they do that? Florio writes that the Seahawks may have been doing the modern-day version of the Trojan Horse, hoping that Brown’s signing would derail his suitor’s season. In another piece, Florio notes that those “within league circles” wonder if Pete Carroll “repeatedly confirmed interest in Brown in the hopes that someone else would sign” the receiver.
  • Greg Auman of The Athletic explores the 22-month span that saw Brown going from a star wideout with the Steelers to a low-salary, midseason signing with the Buccaneers. The story starts in December of 2018, when Brown was benched for Pittsburgh’s season finale and subsequently missed his exit meeting with Mike Tomlin.