While the Bucs have already succeeded in bringing back almost all of the impact players from their Super Bowl-winning team in 2020, Antonio Brown remains the next target for Tampa Bay’s front office. And according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the two sides are in discussion but “are not close right now” to an agreement.
“[Brown] and the Buccaneers, I’m told, had discussions this week on a possible return. They talked money this week. . .” Garafolo said Thursday on Good Morning Football. “The fans want him back and they want to bring him back, the Buccaneers do, just at a different number than what he has in mind right now.”
Brown joined the Bucs on a one-year, $2 million contract for half of the 2020 season, re-taking the field against the Saints in Week 9 after serving an eight-game suspension. In that second half of the year, Brown totaled 483 yards and four touchdowns on 45 catches, with all four of his scores coming over Tampa Bay’s final three games of the regular season.
In the playoffs Brown added another 81 yards and two touchdowns. Brown had a touchdown against Washington in the Bucs’ Wild Card round victory, and despite being forced to miss Tampa Bay’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers with a knee injury, the veteran receiver returned to haul in a touchdown just before halftime against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Now at age 32, showing in 2020 that he can still be a dangerous pass-catcher from any alignment, Brown may be looking at what other veterans have been getting on the free agent market. 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 next season. That may be the price range that Brown is looking at heading into negotiations, but with Tampa Bay’s shrinking salary cap space and legal issues still hanging over the former All-Pro’s head, that price tag may need to come down if Brown is destined to re-join the Bucs for the 2021 season.
Should Brown return, it would once again solidify one of the most dangerous receiving groups in the NFL. With Mike Evans, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson all remaining under contract, tight end O.J. Howard due to return from injury and the Bucs’ ensuring that Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski will return for at least one more season with the team, Brown would provide Tampa Bay a wealth of riches on the offensive side of the ball.