The marriage between Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hasn’t even been made official yet and already speculation has begun about which other talented NFL players might follow the six-time Super Bowl champion to his new home down south.
A few of his former New England Patriots teammates have come up in the conversation, including his favorite wide receiver in Julian Edelman, but a great deal of the discussion has revolved around one of the league’s top pass-catchers over the past decade: Antonio Brown
Brady and Brown spent less than two weeks as teammates and played just one game together in New England before Brown’s sexual assault allegations forced the Patriots to cut him loose, but the 42-year-old quarterback has maintained a strong connection with Brown since he ejection from the league and offered regular support for his comeback efforts.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, though, a reunion between Brady and Brown in Tampa Bay doesn’t seem to be currently on the table — at least as far as Bruce Arians is concerned.
“There definitely was some sense that Tom Brady would want to bring Antonio Brown with him, this from some of the other teams that were potentially in the mix here, which really wasn’t a secret,” Rapoport said Thursday on NFL Live. “Brady and AB have remained close. My understanding is this not something that Bruce Arians is in favor of. He’s had Antonio Brown before. He had him a couple of years in Pittsburgh, does not sound like it went well. It does not seem like the direction the Bucs would be going.”
Arians served as the Steelers’ wide receivers coach from 2004-06, but he had already spent several years on the job as offensive coordinator by the time Brown was drafted in 2010 and evidently didn’t enjoy their time together too much. While discussing Brown’s situation last January, Arians said there is “too much miscommunication, too much … diva” when it comes to the seven-time Pro Bowler.
“I’ve heard so many stories,” Arians said via ESPN. “I like Antonio. He plays as hard as anybody on Sunday, and he practices hard. He’s just gotta make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things.”
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Antonio Brown’s Return Not Guaranteed Yet
Some of the other suitors for prized free-agent quarterback were under the impression Brady was interested in bringing Brown with him wherever he signed, according to Rapoport and NFL Network colleague Tom Pelissero. At this point in time, though, Brown’s reinstatement is still not guaranteed as the NFL still has him under investigation under its personal conduct policy.
The NFL has an ongoing investigation into sexual assault claims by Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, who still has a pending civil case against Brown, according to Broward County (Fla.) court records. Brown was also accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman, who afterward allegedly received threatening text messages from Brown that includes pictures of her children.
Brown is also potentially facing life in prison for charges of felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief less than $1,000, stemming from an incident with a moving-truck driver in late January.
Even putting aside all legal charges and allegations, Brown has been the wrong type of terror off the field for his respective teams. He forced himself into a trade away from the Steelers last offseason and landed with the now-Las Vegas Raiders, but a dramatic saga about his helmet and a sideline blowup with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock were among several incidents that caused him to be jettison from the team without playing a single game.
Put it simply, there is no simple path back to the NFL for Brown.