“I haven’t made that determination yet, but we’ll see how it goes,” Arians told the media on Monday, Dec. 13.
Brown and safety Mike Edwards both got suspended on Dec. 2 due to use of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. Because the cards have a forged federal symbol, it’s also a crime.
Arians originally indicated that a final decision on Brown and Edwards wouldn’t be made until the suspension ends. That’s the week leading up to the Bucs’ Dec. 26 game against Carolina in Week 16.
“We’ll talk as an organization,” Arians said. “It’s coming up soon. When we know, we’ll let everybody know.”
Why Brown Could Be Gone
What Arians said in 2020 when Brown arrived as a free agent, indicates the former All-Pro could be done with the Bucs. Brown came to the Bucs amid a myriad of legal problems that kept him off the field for the first half of the 2020 season.
“He screws up one time, he’s gone. I don’t think he will because he wants to play,” Arians told Pro Football Talk’s Peter King in October 2020.
Arians also took it upon himself in the offseason to get the Bucs vaccinated instead of bringing in a medical expert to urge the team to vaccinate. Arians, 69, and offensive consultant Tom Moore, 83, fall in the at risk category for COVID-19, and breakthrough cases still occur for vaccinated people — sometimes leading to hospitalization according to the CDC.
Arians believes this team has “done an amazing job” following COVID-19 protocols according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. Therefore, Arians concurred that Brown and Edwards’ “misrepresentation” is even worse because of the team’s efforts.
“Yeah, it pisses me off,” Arians said per Auman.
From a purely football standpoint, the Bucs have found their way without Brown. The Bucs have a 5-3 record without him after a fourth-straight win on Sunday, Dec. 12, and quarterback Tom Brady has plenty of other talented skill players to get the ball to.
Signs Brown is Staying
The Bucs could have cut Brown on Dec. 3 and didn’t, which Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times noted on Dec. 4.
Tampa Bay has a 5-0 record when Brown has played this season. He has 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns in those games. The Bucs haven’t found anything close to that production from a third receiver consistently after Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who advocated for Brown joining the Bucs in 2020, likely wants Brown to stay as Stroud alluded to. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer likewise wrote that Brady “would be upset if Brown gets released.”
Arians and the Bucs also haven’t shown Brown the door over other off-field issues since joining the team. That included an incident of Brown breaking a security camera a week before becoming a Buccaneer in October 2020.
“He’s been a model citizen, if and when he’s not, we’ll move on,” Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio in November 2020.
Model citizenship hasn’t meant a clean record for Brown as a Buccaneer. He faced a new civil lawsuit on May 12, 2021, over an altercation with a mover in January 2020. Brown also could get sued by his chef, Steven Ruiz, in 2022 since Brown owes him $10,000. Ruiz notably brought forward the accusation of Brown’s fake vaccine card, too.
Arians and the Bucs haven’t dismissed Brown yet, and Brady clearly wants Brown in Tampa Bay.