The Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a one-year deal with controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown on Saturday, a move that reunites him with former New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the deal was slightly more than the league minimum and contains several performance bonuses.
Brown is expected to make his Buccaneers debut during the team’s Week 9 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. While his suspension ends at the conclusion of Week 8, Brown still needs to pass COVID-19 protocols before he steps onto the field.
Brown spent nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before he was traded to the Raiders during the 2019 off-season. He failed to make it to the regular season, however, and demanded a trade. The New England Patriots picked Brown up after he was released, but cut him after one game due to off-field legal issues involving sexual misconduct.
While the Buccaneers are stacked with offensive weapons for newly acquired quarterback Tom Brady, many of them have battled injuries early in the season, including tight end Rob Gronkowski. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians called Brown’s signing an “insurance policy,” adding that a team “can’t have enough” good players.
Prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, Arians dismissed the idea of adding Brown to his receiving core, saying “I just know him and it’s not a fit in our locker room.” When asked Sunday what changed his mind, Arians said Brown had “matured.”
“I believe in second chances. Everybody wants to say that Tom picked him. Tom didn’t have anything to do with it. This was something Jason and I had been talking [about] for a couple of weeks, ever since the injuries to our other guys,” Arians replied.
“When the time was right, would we see if we could pull the trigger and fit him in to what we want to get done? And we’ll see. If Antonio does what I think he’s gonna do, I think he’s gonna be fine.”
Last year, Brown was accused by two women of sexual misconduct. In September 2019, Brown’s former trainer claimed he sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions. Brown’s other accuser was a female artist who had entered his home to paint a portrait of Brown. She said he made an inappropriate advancement toward her.
Arians, who was recently honored with the Champion for Equality Award for his work in advancing women in the NFL, said he’ll let the legal system do its job regarding the accusations against Brown.
“Allegations — I’ve been around a lot of players that have had allegations that weren’t true, some were — so let the court system handle it. If it’s found out to be true, he won’t be with us,” Arians told reporters.