If you thought he was gone for good, think again. Despite being suspended for the first eight games of the 2020 NFL season, the talented but enigmatic Antonio Brown is coming back. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have decided to give Brown a chance despite his career turning into a train wreck over the last few years. When he’s finished serving his eight-game suspension, Brown will presumably be ready to join an already stacked Tampa Bay offense.
There should be little doubt that Brown has the talent to play in the NFL. However, his maturity leaves much to be desired. After his tenure in Pittsburgh ended on a contentious note, Brown was traded to Oakland, where he complained about his helmet and had a shouting match with GM Mike Mayock. A year later, allegations of sexual misconduct got him cut by the Patriots and ultimately suspended. However, the Bucs believe that Brown has moved past that.
“I think he’s matured, and I believe in second chances,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said on Sunday.
Of course, Brown is surely on at least his third or fourth chance. The Bucs are also loaded at wide receiver when everyone is healthy. They surely didn’t need any help while scoring 45 points against the Raiders on Sunday with Tom Brady throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers. Nevertheless, the Bucs view Brown as an “insurance policy” with Chris Godwin missing time this year and Mike Evans battling injuries.
Oddly enough, Arians and the Bucs have gone out of their way to insist that Brady had nothing to do with the team adding Brown. Brady was briefly with Brown in New England last season and says he’s “looking forward to working with him again.” However, the company line is that Brady didn’t push the Bucs to add Brown.
As always, only time will tell what happens from here. The Tampa Bay offense appears to be coming together and clicking on all cylinders over the past two weeks. Brown could potentially add to their firepower and give them a passing attack that gives opposing defenses nightmares. On the other hand, few would be surprised if it became a move that blew up in Tampa’s face.
“We’re gonna see how it all fits together,” says Brady. “There’s a lot of hard work ahead. None of it just magically happens.”