Antonio Brown is signing with the New England Patriots, per multiple reports.
Antonio Brown has been released by the Oakland Raiders, opening up the free agency flood gates for a team willing to take the risk. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown is free to sign with the team of his choosing and does not have to clear waivers.
“Antonio Brown does not have to clear through waivers. He now becomes an unrestricted free agent, free to sign where he wants…Drew Rosenhaus: ‘Now that Antonio is a free agent, we are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team. Antonio is looking forward to a new beginning,’” Schefter tweeted.
The Patriots are a team that has been consistently mentioned as a potential landing spot for Brown. New England has been an organization willing to take chances on talented players. NFL analyst Cian offered his take on why the Patriots make sense for Brown.
“Antonio Brown fits on every team so there’s no point guessing where he signs…but it’ll be New England. Hell do a one season reputation rebuild and sign a huge deal in the off-season…Any team that signs Brown has to understand that antagonizing him over minor issues is not the route to go. As is the case in every sport, superstars get superstar benefits, Steelers understood that for years, Raiders didn’t understand that,” Cian tweeted.
Despite all the craziness, Brown has still made it clear he wants to play football. Agent Drew Rosenhaus noted they are “immediately” working on finding a new team.
“Now that Antonio is a free agent, we are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team,” Rosenhaus said, per Schefter. “Antonio is looking forward to a new beginning.”
With Brown’s free agency beginning, here are my top five potential teams that could be willing to take a chance on the Pro Bowl wide receiver.
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No. 1 New England Patriots
The running joke about Brown’s drama was that Bill Belichick was just waiting in the wings to trade or sign the Pro Bowl receiver. Belichick and the Patriots have shown a propensity for taking chances on players. One example is Josh Gordon who has received multiple chances from the Patriots and the payoff is to be determined.
New England could use another wide receiver considering Gordon’s uncertainty combined with rookie N’Keal Harry being placed on injured reserve. One of the Patriots top receiving options was Rob Gronkowski who retired over the offseason. Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne noted that one NFL scout believes the Patriots would be Brown’s top landing spot.
“Asked one AFC scout just now what the market will be like for Antonio Brown. One word: “Patriots.'” Dunne tweeted.
No. 2 Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll has no problem taking chances on players who are extremely talented but also offer a high degree of volatility. Seattle was at its best with a cast of strong personalities including Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman. The Seattle Seahawks top wideout Doug Baldwin retired over the offseason.
While the Seahawks seemed pleased with rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf, don’t count the Seahawks out of the running to consider Brown. The Seahawks just made a big splash by trading for Jadeveon Clowney, and Brown is not out of the question. Now that the Seahawks have moved on from most of the personalities mentioned above, it remains to be seen whether they would be willing to start the process over with Brown. As Field Gulls pointed out, the move would have to be green-lighted by franchise quarterback Russell Wilson.
“One thing to keep in mind: if the Seahawks DID engage in preliminary talks with Antonio Brown and his agent, it would 100% only come after Russell Wilson gave the thumbs up. Wilson has some idea how much he’d want to work with Brown, beyond just being a receiver,” Field Gulls tweeted.
No. 3 Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals just signed Michael Crabtree showing they are not completely pleased with their receiving core. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury is known as a players coach. Could he finally be the coach that can be the one to relate to Brown?
It is a high risk to bring in Brown when you are trying to establish a new culture, but the Cardinals may at least perform due diligence to see if the potential reward could be worth it. The Cardinals are tied for fifth in the Vegas odds to land Brown, per OddsShark.
No. 4 San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers were one of the teams heavily linked to Brown over the offseason before he surprisingly was traded to the Raiders. San Francisco invested heavily in wide receivers during the NFL draft, but so far it looks like they may be a little way off from being able to contribute.
Brown would instantly be the 49ers’ WR1 if San Francisco opted to pursue the Pro Bowl receiver. The headache may not be worth the talent for a rebuilding team. The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami does not believe the Niners will be Brown’s next destination.
“I think Antonio brown is a great player. If another team believes he’ll help them then that team should sign him. I’m just saying I don’t believe it’ll be the 49ers,” Kawakami tweeted.
No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals
With AJ Green still battling a foot injury, the Bengals could use some help at wide receiver. Tyler Boyd is expected to be the team’s top target until Green returns. Brown would give Cincinnati immediate help and the Bengals have shown a willingness to take chances on players in the past. Green can be a free agent after this season, and Brown could be a replacement if both parties decide to go in a different direction this summer.