It looks like wide receiver Antonio Brown is joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There had been reports floating around that Brown might return to the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, but Friday saw a lot of talk of him heading to Tampa Bay instead, and that’s now become pretty official. Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle and Adam Schefter of ESPN both reported that Brown was going to officially visit the Bucs on Saturday, with Wilson saying that both sides were “highly motivated” to reach a deal and Schefter noting that they were already working on that deal. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport then called the deal “very close,” Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times called it “99 percent” done, and Schefter then took it to “reached agreement” (albeit with some hurdles still to clear):
Update: Antonio Brown and the Buccaneers have reached agreement on a one-year deal, per sources.
Language still has to be finalized, COVID protocols passed, but Brown is likely to make his Bucs’ debut in Week 9 against the Saints.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 23, 2020
It’s been an interesting couple of years for Brown. Brown played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2010-18, reaching seven Pro Bowls there and earning four first-team All-Pro nods. But he left amidst drama, then joined the Oakland Raiders (he’s seen above after a Raiders’ preseason game in 2019) and drew more drama with his feet, his helmet demands, and his altercation with GM Mike Mayock. He then was released by the Raiders, briefly joined the New England Patriots, was sued for sexual assault by his former trainer, and was cut by the Patriots after appearing in just one game (with further accusations playing a role in that decision to cut him). At that point, Brown said he was “done with the NFL,” but he changed his mind four days later.
Since then, Brown has faced additional hurdles. He wound up in further legal trouble (including a charge of burglary with battery) in January, and in July, he again said he didn’t want to return to the NFL. A few days after that, though, he again changed his mind. The NFL then handed him an eight-game suspension for repeated violations of its personal conduct policy, but that suspension began Week 1 even without him signing with a team, so it would likely have him miss one game at most and debut for the Bucs in Week 9 (as Schefter mentions) if he clears the remaining issues ahead.
How useful will Brown actually be for the Buccaneers? That’s up for debate. He’s been a great talent when healthy and happy, posting seven 1,000-yard-plus receiving seasons in nine years in Pittsburgh. But since leaving the Steelers, he hasn’t accomplished much of anything on the field, and he’s faced a lot of controversy off the field. It is interesting to see him in Tampa Bay, though, and reunited with Brady (who likely was an advocate for bringing him in). We’ll see what he does there.