Maybe it does make too much sense that the Tampa Bay Bay Buccaneers haven’t re-signed wide receiver Antonio Brown as future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald remains on the open market.
That’s the observation Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio made on Thursday as Brown’s future looks uncertain. Fitzgerald, 37, once played for Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and worked with Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and general manager Jason Licht when they were with the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Cardinals added A.J. Green this offseason after landing star wideout DeAndre Hopkins the year before.
“The circumstantial evidence, when you think about it, is overwhelming,” Florio said on Pro Football Talk. “It’s hiding in plain sight looking at us. I think it’s going to happen.”
Brown, who faces a civil trial in December, may only return to the Bucs on a one-year “prove it” deal according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on “The Pat McAfee Show.” While Brown indicated an interest in returning on Instagram, he remains one of two key free agents who the Bucs haven’t signed yet — the other being running back Leonard Fournette.
Florio noted that Fitzgerald likely slips to being the fourth receiver with the Cardinals adding Green. The Cardinals have Hopkins and Christian Kirk, who combined for 12 touchdown catches in 2020. Florio said it “tells us he ain’t going back to the Cardinals” and mentioned that Fitzgerald’s silence about free agency is telling, too.
ALL the latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Fitzgerald on Brady
Fitzgerald has high regards for Bucs quarterback Tom Brady per AZCardinals.com and added that he once purchased Uggs shoes “to try to be like him.”
“He’s a model of consistency. He’s just unbelievable, passer rating, touchdowns-to-interceptions, the guy does it every single year,” Fitzgerald told AZCardinals.com.
Fitzgerald shows consistency himself, catching passes for 730 or more yards every season from 2004 to 2019. In 2020, he finished with 409 yards and a touchdown on 54 receptions, behind Hopkins and Kirk statistically. Fitzgerald also missed time due to contracting COVID-19 per KARE 11.
Even in the twilight of his career, Florio believes Fitzgerlad would add value to the Bucs offense.
“It’s getting a guy out here with the Man of the Year patch on his jersey, Florio said on PFT. “When he gets into the playoffs, he’s got another level, almost like Gronk (Rob Gronkowski).”
Chasing a Ring
Both Florio and co-host Chris Simms concurred that adding Fitzgerald would boost the Bucs’ motivation in going for a repeat though not overly needed.
“When you do bring in a veteran who doesn’t have a Super Bowl win, who desperately would like to get one, that can become almost a rallying cry,” Florio said on PFT. “It keeps guys from getting lackadaisical. I don’t think they need it with Tom Brady, but man, it would help if they could get Larry Fitzgerald.”
Florio doesn’t see Fitzgerald, a career-long Cardinal, finishing his career elsewhere as a bad thing either.
“I don’t think anyone with the Cardinals or any Arizona fan is going to be upset. They have A.J. Green. They’re moving forward. He’s been there forever,” Florio said on PFT. “If he decides he wants to sign up with the Bucs for one year to try to get a Super Bowl ring, work with Tom Brady, then I think it makes sense for both sides.”