Not many uncertainties remain for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, but one of them is what will become of WR Antonio Brown. After signing a half-season deal to join the Bucs midway through the 2020 season, Brown is once again a free agent, but could have limited options due to his ongoing legal situation stemming from accusations of sexual assault and rape. On the Pat McAfee Show, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport expressed his belief that Brown will be back with the Bucs for the 2021 season.
“My guess is he ends up back in Tampa,” Rapoport said. “Not saying it’s definitely going to happen, but Brady wants him back, I think he wants to be there, and it’s also just – how much money can they come up with?”
Wondering how much cap space the Bucs can create is a common refrain this offseason, but Brown won’t be the one to test that part of the equation. After re-signing major free agents like OLB Shaq Barrett, LB Lavonte David, TE Rob Gronkowski and franchise-tagging WR Chris Godwin, the Bucs won’t have any issue creating the $2-3 million needed to sign Brown. The difference is the type of money Tampa Bay may be willing to offer Brown, compared to another, more desperate team like Seattle.
“If Antonio Brown is going to get a real legit deal from the Seahawks, then he might have to go because his deal with Tampa Bay is going to be a little bit of a prove-it type of situation,” Rapoport said. “If Seattle is going to say, ‘we believe you, we trust you, we’re going to give you real money’, not like incentive-laden, then maybe he goes. But Tampa wants him back, Brady wants him there. That means a lot, so my guess is he ends up back in Tampa.”
In a recent Instagram Live, Brown told fans that “Me and Playoff Lenny (fellow free agent RB Leonard Fournette) gonna work this out”, indicating his desire to return to the Bucs if possible.
Brown, who will be 33 in July, caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games last season, and added two more scores in the playoffs. His ability to play all three wide receiver spots (depending on the situation) and create separation vertically as well as underneath was a huge asset to the Bucs receiving corps. Brown’s biggest impact may have come as a post-catch threat that Brady could get the ball to on screens as a pressure-beater option for the Bucs’ offense.
The Bucs still have 14 unsigned free agents, including Brown, Fournette, DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Ross Cockrell and backup QB Blaine Gabbert.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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