Antonio Brown Trial Update Impacts Free Agency: Report

Antonio Brown

Getty Antonio Brown has his trial date moved again, but it may mean this season is his last in Tampa.

Antonio Brown’s recent trial date change impacts his future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the news via Twitter that Brown’s trial date for the sexual assault and rape civil lawsuit against him moved to Dec. 6-17, 2021. Pelissero added that Brown will become a free agent in March 2021.

Trainor Britney Taylor filed the lawsuit in 2019, accusing Brown of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018. The NFL suspended Brown for eight games for the 2020 season because his alleged actions violate the league’s conduct policy. Brown signed with the Buccaneers in October at the tail end of his suspension. Yahoo! Sports’ Liz Roscher reported that Brown’s countersuit against Taylor, claiming her allegations kept him from getting signed, got dropped once Brown signed with the Bucs.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians said, according to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, “that the team will defer to the court system in deciding whether Brown should stay on the team” when the trial date was set for Dec. 14-18, 2020. The trial date moving to December 2021 means Brown’s season with the Bucs won’t be interrupted further by the lawsuit. An NFL investigation of his breaking a security camera at his Hollywood luxury home community could lead to a suspension, but that investigation began in late October.

Free Agency Impact

Tampa signing Brown to a one-year $1.6 million dollar contract in October means the Bucs will need to decide on him by March 2021 when NFL free agency begins.

Florio noted that the Bucs could consider how Brown does on a deposition before the trial if the deposition occurs before the free agency date. Additionally, the Bucs have to consider the result of the 2021 trial. If Brown gets suspended by the NFL again, the Bucs could lose him late in the 2021 season.

Brown’s on-field performance also factors into what the Bucs will do. He has 20 catches for 168 yards and no touchdowns in his four games with the team. The Bucs also went 1-3 in those games after a 6-2 start to the season.

WR Core, Other Questions

The Bucs have other unanswered questions at wide receiver besides Brown in 2021 as Chris Godwin will also become a free agent.

With Mike Evans in the middle of a big contract, it begs the question of what the Bucs will do. Both Evans and Godwin have been a steady force together in the passing game since 2017.

The Bucs drafted Evans in the first round of the 2014 draft and took Goodwin in the third round of the 2017 draft. Evans has made the Pro Bowl three times, and Goodwin made his first in 2019.

Free agency concerns go well beyond the wide receiver position group, The Athletic’s Greg Auman noted via Twitter. Position groups impacted include linebacker, tight end, defensive end and running back.

The Bucs will have $25.3 million in cap space overall to work with, per Over The Cap.