Head coach Bruce Arians spoke to the media following the Bucs’ 45-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday, taking questions for the first time since the Bucs signed wide receiver Antonio Brown on Friday night.
With Tampa Bay already having an incredibly talented group of offensive weapons at the team’s disposal, it posed an interesting question as to whether Brown’s talent outweighed the risk in taking on the off-the-field issues that he’s had in the past. Brown is currently serving an eight game suspension over allegations of misconduct as he has been accused of sexual assault.
Brown is eligible to attend team meetings on Wednesday in Tampa, and can practice with the team following the Bucs vs. Giants game next Monday night, prior to the New Orleans game after missing the first eight games of the season due to the suspension.
Arians responded to why the Bucs brought in the former All-Pro receiver, despite those issues.
“It’s an insurance policy,” Arians said. “When we don’t have Mike [Evans] and we don’t have Chris [Godwin,] why not have another Pro Bowl-caliber player that’s available and fits our cap and fits everything else? So why not? We have good players but you can’t have enough of them. In Chicago we had one of our top guys out there on one leg (Evans), why not have another one of them?”
Additionally, Arians commented on the potential of signing Brown back in March, saying that Brown was simply “not a fit here,” and this left people wondering whether his new quarterback Tom Brady – a former teammate of Brown’s during his one-game stint with New England last season – possibly had any influence in the decision. Brown had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown against Miami in his lone action in 2019.
“I think he’s matured and I believe in second chances,” Arians said of Brown. “Everyone wants to say that Tom picked him, Tom didn’t have anything to do with it. This is something that Jason [Licht] and I have talked about for weeks, ever since the injuries to our other guys. And when the time was right, would we see if we could pull the trigger and fit it into what we want to get done and we’ll see. If Antonio does what I think what he’s going to do, he’s going to be fine.
“I think let the court system do it’s job. As far as the allegations, I’ve been around a lot of players who have allegations that weren’t true. Some were. So, let the court system handle it and if it’s found out the be true, he won’t be with us.”
The 32-year old Brown is a seven-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion, who was coached by Arians in Pittsburgh. Brown, who played his first nine seasons in Pittsburgh, has 841 career receptions for 11,263 yards (13.4 avg.) with 75 touchdowns, and played with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bucs linebackers coach Larry Foote and offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El in Pittsburgh when they were his teammates.