There has been no shortage of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ signings this offseason, but each roster move has been met with a singular demand from fans. From re-signing Rob Gronkowski to Leonard Fournette, “sign A.B.” has become the rallying cry on social media as Bucs fans are growing more concerned about Antonio Brown’s future the longer he remains a free agent. The star receiver even got in on the action himself by responding to the Buccaneers’ recent Instagram post.
“Sign @ab,” Brown said in the Instagram comments of a recent Buccaneers’ post.
The post was announcing the Bucs were returning all 22 of their Super Bowl starters, the first time a defending champion has accomplished such a feat. Brown was technically not a starter in the game as Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Scotty Miller all got the nod as the team’s three receivers against the Chiefs. While he may not have been a starter, Brown made a major impact by catching a critical touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
“First team to return all 22 Super Bowl starters since 1977… We BACK back. 😏,” the Bucs Instagram post noted.
Brown’s plea to be re-signed was even met with comments from his own teammates. Bucs star linebacker Devin White pushed Brown to return to Tampa for their quest to repeat as champions.
“@ab waiting on you,” White commented on Brown’s reply.
Here is a look at the exchange between the two Bucs players.
Antonio Brown says he wants the Bucs to bring him back pic.twitter.com/n5mg40CiVL
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 5, 2021
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Brown & the Bucs Are Far Apart in Their Free-Agent Negotiations
Brown’s Instagram comment comes days after NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Brown is “not close” to re-signing with the Buccaneers. It appears the Bucs are looking for another bargain contract full of incentives, while Brown wants something comparable to what other receivers have landed in free agency.
“Let’s start with Antonio Brown, he and the Buccaneers I am told had discussions this week about a possible return,” Garafolo recently explained on Good Morning Football. “They talked money this week. …The fans want him back, and they want to bring him back, the Buccaneers do, just at a different number than what he has in mind right now. When you look at what the receivers are making on the market right now, the veteran guys, you’re looking at anywhere from one-year, $5 million guaranteed for Keelan Cole to one-year, $8 million for T.Y. Hilton. So, $5 to $8 million.”
A.B. Has Had Interest From Other Teams
ESPN’s Jenna Laine noted on Twitter that Brown will need more “realistic” expectations for his new deal if he is going to re-sign with the Bucs. Tampa Bay is already paying top dollar to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who the team is using the expensive franchise tag on to retain this season.
“Wouldn’t rule it out. But they’re already paying two No. 1 wide receivers,” Laine tweeted in response to a question about Brown’s status. “Expectations will have to be more realistic.”
Garafolo admitted the Bucs are competing with other teams to re-sign Brown, but so far it appears the receiver has not landed the lucrative offer he would like. After the Super Bowl, Brown emphasized his desire to return to the Bucs, but the two parties will have to find a compromise on the financial particulars.
“He has had interest from other teams, when I say they’re not beating down his door, meaning they’re not throwing a ton of money at him,” Garafolo added. “And he would like to go back to Tampa is what I’m told. Just maybe at a different number, and how reachable are the incentives in the contract?”