Brown, who quit the Bucs on Jan. 2, floated the idea of the Cleveland Browns signing him after the Browns officially traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson on March 18. Brown’s tweet went viral in the process.
“Cleveland Antonio Browns,” Brown wrote. “C-A-B.”
Watson, whom the Bucs had serious interest in before Tom Brady’s March 13 return, makes the Browns a stronger force in the AFC. The former Houston Texans superstar also has ongoing legal issues that could result in a suspension by the NFL. The Bucs would have needed a temporary quarterback plan with Watson such as starting Blaine Gabbert had Brady not unretired.
Brown, of course, ended his tenure with the Bucs after ripping off his jersey and storming off the field during a Jan. 2 game in New York. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians made it clear immediately after the game that Brown is “no longer a Buc” during the press conference.
Brown’s time in Tampa Bay started after an eight-game suspension in 2020. He helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV and caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games that year. He matched those numbers in sevens during an injury-riddled 2021 season with 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns.
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Accomplished Career, Cloudy Future
Brown, 33, put up big numbers and amassed individual achievements along the way in his 12-year career. His career numbers consist of 928 receptions, 12,291 yards, and 83 touchdowns. He made seven Pro Bowls and received All-Pro honors four times along the way.
Now, his off-field issues may outweigh his on-field ability for any prospective team. Three NFL teams, including the Bucs, have terminated Brown’s contract per Over the Cap since 2018.
After the Bucs released Brown on Jan. 6, no team has signed him, including playoff teams that could have at the time. Brown ranked seventh among receivers and 29th overall in Pro Football Focus’ free agency rankings before the new league year in March.
Among the six receivers ahead of Brown, five have found homes for the 2022 season. Pro Football Network recently floated potential landing spots for Brown, but his future in the NFL remains unknown.
Arians: ‘Sad the Way it Ended but it Happened’
“I hope so,” Arians said on the Pat McAfee Show on March 1.
Arians didn’t show regret over the 2020 season where Brown became a key part of the Bucs title run. It helped alleviate injuries to star receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, too.
“Knowing Antonio, nobody works harder than him. He’s always in great shape. Skill set is unbelievable. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t age,” Arians told McAfee.
All three got injured in 2021, including Brown, who claimed his tantrum-filled exit was because of his injured ankle.
“It was sad the way it happened. But it happened,” Arians told McAfee.