The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.
This week’s topic: Should The Bucs Re-Sign Antonio Brown?
Table of Contents
Scott Reynolds: It’s Time To Move On From Brown
I understand why the Bucs signed troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown last year. Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians remember the disastrous end of the 2019 season. That’s when Tampa Bay was 7-7 and Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller all missed the last two games of the season due to hamstring injuries. Jameis Winston was left to throw the ball to Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson and a couple of guys signed off the street in late December. Brown was signed as an insurance policy in case the Bucs suffered those types of injuries again at the receiver position down the stretch. He wound up being a productive No. 3 receiver instead, catching valuable touchdowns at Washington in the playoffs and against Kansas City in Super Bowl LV.
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today
Brown served his purpose in helping the Bucs win a Super Bowl. It’s time to move on. Licht and Arians won their gamble – that Brown wouldn’t do anything stupid off the field to force Tampa Bay to cut him or disrupt team chemistry. Now it’s time to cash out and walk away from the table with the winnings. Staying at the table and inviting Brown, who still has a civil suit pending involving sexual assault, back to the Bucs for one more year is a recipe to lose all those winnings. I remember another controversial receiver torpedoing Tampa Bay’s chances to repeat after winning its first Super Bowl in 2002. While Keyshawn Johnson and Brown don’t have the same issues, I would hate to see history repeat itself.
While Brown was a nice addition last year, it’s clear from his 10.7 average during the last eight games of the regular season and his 10.1 average in the postseason that Brown, who will turn 33 in July, isn’t the same big-time play-maker he was earlier in his career at Pittsburgh. Having Brown around in 2021 will further stunt the growth of promising young wide receivers like Miller and Tyler Johnson, the team’s fifth-round pick last year. I know high-character guys like Miller and Johnson won’t present a problem for the Bucs off the field, and I’m excited to see what their potential is with more reps. Those reps won’t come with Brown back for another year.
Mark Cook: Nope, He’s A Volcano Waiting to Erupt
I don’t think anyone can question the talent of Brown. Even at the age of 32 (33 when the season starts), he is a dangerous football player who has amassed 11,746 yards and 84 touchdowns as a receiver in the NFL. You don’t do that by accident. But as dangerous as he is on the field, he is just as dangerous off the field. I just have the feeling he is a powder keg ready to explode.
WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Brown’s legal trouble, along with his personal conduct issues, are well documented. I am all about second chances, even third chances sometimes. But how many is this for Brown? He was far from a model citizen in Pittsburgh, got into a physical altercation with Mike Mayock during a brief stint with the Raiders because of a helmet (really Antonio?), has had allegations of sexual misconduct made against him and then there is the incident down in Miami last year prior to coming the Buccaneers where he was accused of vandalism. Sure, he stayed away from any controversy in his half of a season with Tampa Bay last year, but is the “new and improved” AB, the real Antonio Brown?
Brown isn’t the future in Tampa Bay and everyone knows that. And the longer he is on the roster the less development guys like Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson will get. The Buccaneers are loaded on offense and yes, I realize that injuries can happen and you can’t have too many talented receivers. But as Scott Reynolds said above, we all remember the Keyshawn Johnson soap opera in 2003 and while the situations are somewhat different, it would be a shame to see another volatile wide receiver create drama and derail another Super Bowl run. Move on Buccaneers before the volcano erupts.
Jon Ledyard: AB Clearly Makes Bucs More Dangerous, But Might Not Be Worth The Hassle
Ethically, I would never advocate for the rostering of Antonio Brown until at least after his legal situation has been rectified. I’m not saying he’s guilty, but I am saying I’m not willing to take the risk of employing him given what he has been accused of (rape, sexual assault), especially when there’s all the other off-field issues in his recent past as well. I know he behaved himself publicly for a couple months with the Bucs in-season, but this is a different situation now.
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Now Brown has an entire offseason between his re-signing and his return to the team’s facility and structure on a regular basis. That’s cause for concern given Brown’s recent history, especially if he’s seeking any type of guaranteed money or a substantial raise. As talented as he is, and Brown’s presence on the field undoubtedly makes the Bucs a more dangerous football team, with everything the Bucs have going for them, I’m just not sure he’s worth the hassle.
It seems the Bucs would like Brown back, but only for the right price, which I can’t imagine is much more than he made last season. I also doubt Brown is getting anything better in his offers from other teams, which is why he remains unsigned. That’s a good indication the Bucs have played this exactly right, and they shouldn’t budge an inch for a guy like Brown. If he wants to come to the team for a heavily incentivized contract that basically says he can’t screw up or he’s gone, from a business perspective that makes sense for Tampa Bay. But he’s not the kind of person you move money around to get back on your team. If AB moves on, I think the Bucs will be just fine with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson.
Matt Matera: Brown Should Be Here If It’s For The Right Price
The Bucs have been able to re-sign everyone this offseason as they go for two straight Super Bowls, so why stop with Antonio Brown? A player of his talent should be back, but only if it’s for the right price. Once he got going after returning to the NFL, you could see the effect that Brown has on the field as he recorded 483 yards in eight games with four touchdowns. Though he got injured early in the Divisional round of the postseason, causing him to also miss the NFC Championship game, he still managed to score a touchdown in both the wild card round and Super Bowl LV.
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Obviously there’s a lot of baggage that comes with Brown, but re-signing him would once again make sure that the Bucs have the best wide receiver unit in the league. Because of his history, it’s prevented other teams from showing their interest in him, at least that we know of, and only the Seattle Seahawks have been linked as a possible destination for Brown. I don’t think eight regular season games and playoff run to winning the Super Bowl is enough to restore his image, but in a way that helps the Bucs at the negotiating table.
Tampa Bay should be looking to sign him for anywhere between three to five million. Anything other than that and you wish him well in his future endeavors. I understand that many think he’s a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, and for any other team I would agree with that. I believe his friendship with Tom Brady would be able to keep him on the straight and narrow. You can’t balk on a chance to bring back a player as good as Brown if it’s for the right price, and if not, you roll with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. The Bucs should feel confident with them in an elevated role as well.
Taylor Jenkins: The Bucs Have Already Accepted The Risks That Come With Brown’s Exceptional Talent
Asking if you should re-sign Antonio Brown is a bit of a complicated question. As far as talent goes, he proved in the later stages of the 2020 season that he’s still in his prime and could potentially continue to be one of the most fearsome receivers in the NFL. Especially with a full offseason with the Bucs. But, as is always the question with Brown, can he continue to limit his off-the-field issues? Despite staying out of the public eye for most of last season, sometimes he feels like a ticking time bomb where you’re just waiting to wake up and see him in a headline. Not to mention, he still has pending legal issues that come with serious allegations.
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But all-in-all, the Bucs rolled the dice on the ultra-talented receiver in 2020 and it seems clear that they’re willing to roll the dice on him again this year. So then it all comes down to the money. Despite having a plethora of offensive stars in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson and Cam Brate all under contract, a team really can’t ever have too many weapons. This was made clear in 2019 when the Bucs finished their season without both Evans and Godwin and was again made clear in 2020 when a number of injuries, including a season-ending injury to Howard, plagued Tampa Bay over the first half of season and led to Brown’s signing in the first place. And Brown, showing that he’s still playing in his prime, could very well be the best talent out of them all.
So what is he worth? Veteran receivers Sammy Watkins, Keelan Cole, Emmanuel Sanders and T.Y. Hilton all signed one-year deals this offseason that landed between $5 and $8 million for 2021 and maybe Brown is looking at those contracts and wanting something in that price range. But with the issues that have followed his personal life for years and Tampa Bay’s salary cap space shrinking, those are lofty expectations and it doesn’t seem as though other teams are exactly knocking down the door for his services right now. If the Bucs can get him to sign somewhere in the $2-$3 million range with some incentives that potential push the number between $4 and $5 million, knowing that Tampa Bay is willing to take the risk, Brown would be worth every penny on the field.