“Would I be surprised if someone signs him? No. But should they? No.”
That’s how Around The NFL‘s Dan Hanzus put it on Sunday when joining Sky Sports to react to Antonio Brown storming off the field midway through the third quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 28-24 over the New York Jets – the latest in a long line of indiscretions that have plagued Brown’s NFL career.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown leaves the field after taking off his jersey and throwing it into the stands
Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the 2010 Draft, Brown dazzled the NFL for nine seasons in which he topped 1,000 yards seven times, was named to as many Pro Bowls, was a four-time All Pro and twice led the league in receptions and yards.
But the relationship turned sour in 2018, culminating in Brown skipping team practices in the lead up to a Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Brown was benched, subsequently requested a trade and got a move to the then-Oakland Raiders where he flamed out without even playing in a game after an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady believes ‘everyone should be very compassionate’ with Antonio Brown after his latest misstep
The New England Patriots and a familiar face in Tom Brady were next to give Brown a try, but this time he would manage only the one game before being cut by the team as lawsuits of allegations of sexual and personal misconduct were levied against him.
Brown was suspended for the first eight weeks of the 2020 NFL season for multiple violations of the league’s personal-conduct policy but ultimately, and literally, found a home with Brady in Tampa Bay, where he helped the team win the Super Bowl a year ago.
Brown has yet to be officially released by the Buccaneers, but Bruce Arians does not like the type to easily change his mind and he made it quite clear the 33-year-old “is no longer a Buc” as he walked out on the team on Sunday. But that’s not to say one of their rivals will not be tempted into making a move for the troubled, yet immensely gifted wideout.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and Mike Golic discuss Antonio Brown and if anyone can help the troubled wide receiver
Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio believes Brown will not have to wait long, saying: “This, like everything else, will settle down and teams trying to win – and win now – just need him to hold it together for a few weeks, and if they can’t they can just get rid of him after the season.
“We’ve got the playoffs right here, teams need someone who can help them.”
So, which of the teams set to be battling it out in the postseason might be most tempted to bring Brown into their building? We look at the three most obvious candidates…
Kansas City Chiefs
“The Chiefs have been desperate for an answer across from Tyreek Hill,” says Florio. “I put the Chiefs at the top of the list; they need something.”
Travis Kelce’s 34-yard dash in overtime secures a seventh-straight victory for the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 against the L.A. Chargers
Kansas City’s offense has long been one of the NFL’s most explosive, thanks to the talents of notorious highlight-reel quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his go-to weapons in tight end Travis Kelce and speedster Hill.
But, this season, the Chiefs have regressed back to the mean somewhat. particularly during a barren run from Week Five to Week 13 which – barring a 41-point aberration against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10 – saw them average just 18.2 points a game, relying instead on the strength of their defense to break them out of the 3-4 hole in which they started the season. But now KC appear to be back clicking, with the offense putting up 48, 34, 36 and 31 in the last four weeks, peaking at the perfect time prior to the playoffs.
Brian Baldinger joins Inside The Huddle to break down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive struggles earlier this season
Brown helped Tampa Bay beat the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowls, scoring a touchdown, to dash their dream of securing back-to-back titles. Could the roles be reversed this time round?
Los Angeles Rams
“The Rams are always in it!” says Florio. “Whoever it is, if you give the Rams enough time to think about it, they’re going to talk themselves into doing it.”
It’s true. The modus operandi in Los Angeles these days certainly does seem to be splash plays for star names, having added quarterback Matthew Stafford, linebacker Von Miller and most recently receiver Odell Beckham Jr to their already loaded squad this year alone.
Brian Baldinger joins Inside The Huddle to talk about the big trade of Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have very much placed their football team in ‘Super Bowl or Bust’ mode this season. So much so that they have somewhat mortgaged their future against it, with the team holding no first-round draft picks until 2024 – and their last was way back when in 2016 as they selected Jared Goff with the No 1 overall pick.
It’s an approach that cannot really be argued with right now, however, as the Rams currently reside in first place in the NFC West, seeded No 2 in the NFC with a 12-4 record and are riding a five-game win streak into the postseason.
Plus, Cooper Kupp – and his league-leading 138 catches, 1,829 receiving yards and 15 TDs – alongside OBJ, with Brown now thrown into the mix… who would not want to see that offense in action?
Odell Beckham Jr logs a third-straight game with a touchdown reception for the Los Angeles Rams against the Arizona Cardinals
Green Bay Packers
The Packers were reportedly a big player in the Beckham sweepstakes earlier this season before losing out to LA in the battle for his affection, but perhaps they could be tempted into a swing for another supremely talented, if a bit combustible, receiver?
Like the Rams, the Packers have got the pieces in place for a title run, with a robust defense complementing a well-oiled offense led expertly by likely back-to-back league MVP winner Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers becomes their all-time passing TD leader with an 11-yard TD to wide receiver Allen Lazard
But let’s not forget that this is the very same Rodgers who was wanting out of Green Bay in the offseason, threatening to retire rather than come back to Wisconsin for another season due to his dissatisfaction at a lack of say in player personnel decisions.
If Rodgers believes Brown could make the difference to their team, as he desperately searches for a second Super Bowl title, then this is precisely the kind of move to signal that there has indeed been a power shift within the organisation – which would go some way to convincing Rodgers to stick around a bit longer still.
Sky Sports NFL is your dedicated channel for NFL coverage through the season – featuring a host of NFL Network programming. Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/nfl, our Twitter account @SkySportsNFL & Sky Sports – on the go!