There is a dire need for receiving help with the New England Patriots, that much is clear.
Tom Brady has grown increasingly frustrated with his receivers in recent weeks and is struggling to create chemistry with some of his younger and newer targets. The one receiver he didn’t struggle connecting with this season was Antonio Brown.
The two were on the same page right away and worked closely throughout Brown’s 11-day tenure with the team. New England is looking for a spark on the offensive side of the ball down the stretch and Brown would be the perfect fit.
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Many analysts feel the same way, including ESPN’s Ryan Clark. Noting the Patriots need receiving help, Clark believes New England should “100 percent sign Antonio Brown” but not for the sole reason of him being a reliable receiver.
Here’s more of what Clark had to say on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Tuesday morning:
This is a team we know that’s not above cheating. This is a team that we know is not above doing whatever it takes. This is a team that’s not built on morality. This is a team that is built on championships and if you can help me win a championship and you’re not in jail, they will take you. They have done that. So if they want to win, if they want Tom Brady to stop yelling at his wide receivers to do things that they were not blessed with the talent to do, then you go out and get [Brown]. You kick the tires, you ask the NFL if he will be able to play or if he will be on the exempt list, and let him ride.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but starting off with the overarching point, the Patriots could use a proven receiver to help with deep passing patterns, a facet that has clearly lacked over the past few weeks for the Patriots. It is mainly a fallout from releasing Josh Gordon, but not having Antonio Brown in the mix isn’t helping either.
On the other note, the Patriots have had their share of scandals and immoral signings in the past. Aaron Hernandez is one of those guys who helped the Patriots to a Super Bowl in 2011 while Donte Stallworth was another in 2007 and Brandon Browner in 2014.
Although all three spent time in jail but that doesn’t mean the Patriots were acting immorally by signing them. And besides, the Patriots are not the only team with former players who have been embroiled in legal battles or faced prison terms.
Why the Patriots Probably Won’t Sign AB
Clark touched on this toward the end of his rant, but he made a valid point. The Patriots are apprehensive about signing Antonio Brown because of the possibility of being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list.
If the Patriots were to bring back Brown, per the CBA, the league does not have to tell teams if free agents will be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list prior to them being signed to an active roster. Also part of the terms of the CBA, such players must still be paid their full contract by the team.
The Patriots don’t have a ton of salary cap space to work with and if they were to bring back Brown and he was placed on the exempt list, that creates even less wiggle room to make another impact signing late in the season.