Antonio Brown had something else quietly going on this offseason besides free agency and his ongoing legal issues. He had a knee injury to get “cleaned up.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians confirmed that when talking with Pewter Report on May 17. Arians revealed that Brown’s knee needed to get scoped, and said a physical is a holdup in officially re-signing Brown, who agreed to re-sign with the Bucs on April 28.
“He has to pass the physical,” Arians told Pewter Report. “Hopefully we’ll have a scope on Tuesday, get his knee cleaned up, and everything will work out fine. It’s just the matter of the physical.”
Brown injured his knee against the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs last January. He didn’t make the trip with the Bucs to Green Bay for the NFC Championship Game, but he played in Super Bowl LV. Brown caught five passes for 22 yards and a touchdown in the Big Game.
CBS Sports’ Patrick Walker wrote that “it’s unclear if this procedure is to help heal the previous knee injury or a new one that’s cropped up since February, or if Brown was forced into having the surgery at the team’s behest after agreeing to terms but prior to formally signing the deal.”
Walker noted that the Bucs are making sure Brown is “100 percent” to return and that he completes any rehab needed and passes a physical.
“He’s never had surgery in his life, so it’s just a matter of getting the physical done,” Arians told Pewter Report.
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Uncertainty Loomed for Brown in Free Agency
Brown became the last of the Bucs players who played major snaps in the Super Bowl run to commit to re-signing. The Bucs re-signed all 22 starters, which didn’t include Brown as the team’s third receiver.
Speculation emerged of other places Brown could go as star quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson expressed interest in the star receiver over the past two years. Analysts such as Ian Rappoport indicated that the Bucs wouldn’t offer much to Brown. Kansas City reportedly made an offer to Brown.
Legal issues lingered throughout Brown’s free agency. His civil lawsuit with former trainer Britney Taylor had a December 2021 court date looming, and her counsel requested subpoenas of the Bucs and Brown’s former teams in New England and Las Vegas. Brown and Taylor reached a settlement before Brown re-signed with the Bucs.
Arians, Bucs Maintain Wanting Brown Back
“We wanted A.B. back,” Arians told Pewter Report. “He was a model citizen the whole time he’s been here.”
Brown’s latest legal trouble, a civil lawsuit from an altercation with a truck driver, came from an incident in early 2020 long before signing with the Bucs in October 2020. Brown served an eight-game suspension for that altercation and other off-field incidents as violations of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. The NFL still has an open investigation on Brown according to Pro Football Talk.
Arians originally didn’t want Brown to join the Bucs, but Bucs quarterback Tom Brady persisted in wanting Brown, who played a game with Brady in New England in 2019. Brown lived with Brady during the season.
Tampa benefitted from Brown joining the team last season with 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. He contributed more in the playoffs with eight receptions, 81 yards, and two touchdowns.