Latest on Antonio Brown’s Free Agency: Possible Impact of Upcoming Trial

Antonio Brown

Getty Antonio Brown has yet to be signed for 2021.

A buyer beware reminder resurfaced recently for teams interested in free agent Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Judge Michael Robinson, who presides over Brown’s civil case regarding sexual assault and rape allegations, ordered subpoenas teams Brown has played for, including the Bucs, and NFL Properties LLC according to Tampa Bay Times reporter Matt Baker.  The attorney for Britney Taylor, who accused Brown of sexually assaulting and raping her, requested the Broward County, Florida, court in February to grant access to all NFL employment information possible on Brown.

Robinson didn’t allow Taylor’s counsel to access Brown’s first team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Baker “because the timeframe is ‘overboard and beyond the scope of the relevant discovery.'” Taylor’s attorneys can subpoena the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots in addition to the Bucs. It’s now a consideration for teams interested in signing Brown for 2021.

Brown’s time with the Steelers from 2010 to 2018 overlaps when the alleged assaults and rape occurred in 2017 and 2018 respectively against Taylor, Brown’s trainer at the time. He had brief stints with the Raiders and Patriots in 2019 before the league suspended him for the first half of the 2020 season due to violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Uncertain Future

Another suspension could occur if Brown is found guilty in the December trial, which could interrupt his 2021 season and “end his career” per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Notably, the Bucs’ next contract for Brown could be another one-year deal like the one he signed in October 2020 at the tail end of the suspension, which per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport alluded the Pat McAfee Show.

Rapoport said, “his deal with Tampa Bay, I think, is going to be a little bit of a ‘prove it’ type situation” though he noted “Tampa wants him back. Brady wants him there. That means a lot.

Brown showed his value in Tampa with 45 receptions for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight regular season games. He missed time in the playoffs due to injury but caught 12 balls for 81 yards and two touchdowns.

His off-field issues more or less dissipated in Tampa last season. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said Brown was “a model citizen” since joining the team in October 2020, Brown’s most recent episode of throwing a bike at a security camera occurred before signing.

Teams’ Signing Radar

Tampa hasn’t resigned Brown in free agency almost a week after the new league year began. The Bucs secured key pass catchers in wide receiver Chris Godwin with the franchise tag and tight end Rob Gronkowski with a one-year deal that could pay him $10 million.

Brown has at least expressed interest in wanting to stay, and a representative of his has been in talks with the Bucs per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

Few other teams have shown interest in Brown publicly — mainly Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson lobbying to get him. Rapoport said on McAfee’s show that he could see Brown going if the Seahawks are offering enough versus what Tampa offers.

“If Seattle’s going to say, ‘we believe, we trust you, we’re going to give you real money, not like incentive-laden,’ maybe he goes,” Rapoport said.

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