The newest New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has not made a public statement or appearance since joining his new team.
But on Tuesday afternoon outside Gillette Stadium, Brown was spotted by a fan who asked him about how he feels to be in New England. “Extremely grateful bro,” Brown said in a brief exchange as the two cars drove side-by-side.
Brown showed a little love before driving off, but it was his first real statement about being in New England outside of social media.
Brown was released by the Raiders on Saturday and signed with the Patriots hours later amid some suspicion of collusion. Brown was activated on Monday and his signing was officially announced by the team on Tuesday.
His mentality after signing with the Patriots displays a sharp contrast to what he had in his final days in Oakland. Brown publicized his release from the Raiders in a celebratory fashion, repeatedly mentioning “I’m free” in a video he posted on YouTube.
Now, he is on a team where no one is given preferential treatment and egos are kept in check. Whether or not Brown meshes with this new philosophy is yet to be seen.
Just Like Randy Moss
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked on Tuesday if he thought Antonio Brown would create a distraction, and his response was very typical of his usual stoicism.
When the Patriots brought in Randy Moss from Oakland, there was a similar concern that his presence would create a distraction instead of the desired and eventual partnership he had on the field with Tom Brady.
Belichick’s confidence is telling, especially given Tom Brady’s willingness to accommodate Brown at his house while he settles into New England. Brady and Brown have had a mutual respect for each other for a while and now get a chance to form what could be the league’s most lethal quarterback-receiver combination.
Is Brown The New Number One?
The Patriots’ have a loaded receivers corps this season and Antonio Brown is now the cherry on top. Brown, Josh Gordon, and Julian Edelman are four of the top 15 receivers in yards per game since the start of the 2013 season. That’s four Patriots targets near the top of a very strong list of receivers. No other team has more than one.
Brown’s addition can only make the rest of New England’s receivers better. Now, opposing defenses won’t be able to double cover other outside receivers and could result in slot guys like Edelman and check-downs like James White and Rex Burkhead to face soft coverage against linebackers.
Though Brown headlines the list of elite receivers, he will be joining a diverse offense with tons of weapons. Some games, Brown may have a loaded stat line and others may result in him filling a specific role in Belichick’s offense. Whatever role he serves, he will need to understand how the Patriots’ offense is team-oriented.