The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a risk on signing free agent WR Antonio Brown, and it paid off in spades. After ending the season on a strong note, Antonio Brown heads into the 2021 free agency period looking for his next opportunity.
Antonio Brown’s 2020 season was a success on nearly all counts
The question about Antonio Brown has never been about talent. He is one of the best wide receivers of this generation. In his nine years in Pittsburgh, Brown hauled in 837 of his 1,275 targets for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns. He went to seven Pro Bowls, was a four-time first-team All-Pro. He is fourth amongst active players in receiving yards and 31st all-time.
The problem for Antonio Brown has been himself, and it almost cost him his career. If not for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady’s endorsement, Brown would likely still be sitting at home.
Instead, he filled a critical role for the Buccaneers and helped them get to the second round of the NFL playoffs.
Brown signed with the team in Week 7 and made his debut in Week 9. From then on, Brown appeared in every game. He saw 63 targets, catching 45 of them for 483 yards and four touchdowns. It’s what he did at the end of the season that mattered the most.
Brown ended the regular season on fire for the Buccaneers
From Week 15 to Week 17, Brown caught 20 of 28 targets for 266 yards and scored all of his touchdowns. He kept the scoring streak going adding another during the team’s Wild Card round victory against Washington, catching two passes for 49 yards and a score.
With the knee injury to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin getting healthy after a broken finger, Brown’s added depth played a massive role.
Can Antonio Brown stay in the NFL’s good graces after making his free agency decision?
Antonio Brown knows he is on thin ice with the NFL, and it almost ended midseason.
Brown has had trouble with the law, both before and after being on the Buccaneers’ radar. The reason I bring all of this up is that with an upcoming date with free agency in 2021 for Antonio Brown, you can bet potential teams are thinking about it.
Brown has been told that any off-field issues will result in a lengthy suspension. Brown served an eight-game suspension in 2020 for off-field actions. The looming court date in 2021 could play a massive role in his future. Depending on the outcome, Brown could face league discipline.
Where is Antonio Brown likely to sign during free agency in 2021?
There is a fine balance teams need to navigate between onboarding an incredible talent like Antonio Brown in the 2021 free agency period while managing potential risk.
Antonio Brown coming back to Tampa Bay in free agency makes the most sense for both sides
The Buccaneers have been the perfect fit for Brown to this point. Coach Bruce Arians also has a longstanding relationship with Brown. It goes back to Brown’s first two seasons with the Steelers when Arians was the offensive coordinator. Also, Tom Brady has had a significant impact on Brown. In fact, Brown is living in a guest house on Brady’s estate on Davis Island, just off Tampa’s coast.
Brady even helped to put more money in Brown’s pocket in Week 17. The game was out of reach, and Brady should have kneeled it out. Instead, Brady tossed a screen pass to Brown on first down rather than run out the clock. Then a pop pass to Brown on second down, and another on third down, for Brown’s 11th reception of the game. More importantly, his 45th on the season — that earned Brown a $250,000 bonus.
WR Chris Godwin will become a free agent in 2021, and there is a chance they could franchise tag either Godwin or Brown. If not, they risk losing them both, and someone with the talent of Antonio Brown keeps the Buccaneers in Super Bowl contention with Brady under center.
According to Over The Cap, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the eighth-most cap space to play with at a projected $30.38 million, so money wouldn’t be an issue.
Antonio Brown re-signing with the Buccaneers in free agency and playing with them in 2021 makes the most sense for everyone involved.
Could the Green Bay Packers sign Antonio Brown in the 2021 free agency period?
The thought of Antonio Brown running routes with Davante Adams is a terrifying thought for any defensive coordinator. It is also a dream come true for QB Aaron Rodgers, who is playing some of his best football. Even at 37, Rodgers is the favorite to win the NFL MVP Award.
Before the season kicked off, Green Bay was one of the betting favorites to land Brown. Especially after Devin Funchess opted out of the season. The Packers are in some cap trouble, with the salary cap estimated to be $176 million in 2021. Sitting a projected $22.2 million over the cap will make moves difficult, but Brown, given his age and potential self-combustion, could be inside the realm of possibilities.
Would the Houston Texans add Antonio Brown in free agency?
The Houston Texans have done about everything possible to upset their superstar quarterback. At this point, we can’t even be certain Deshaun Watson is back in 2021 or gets himself out of Houston.
If he does stay, he needs weapons. They traded away DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller is a free agent in 2021. How about bringing in Antonio Brown during the 2021 free agency period? Pairing him with the burner speed of Brandin Cooks could be a lethal combination for Watson.
Cap space is the issue as they sit a projected $17.88 million over the cap. One quick way to save some cap would be to cut RB David Johnson. Keeping Johnson on the roster for 2021 would result in a $12 million cap hit. If the Texans cut Johnson before June 1st, they’ll net $9.9 million in savings, leaving a $2.1 million cap hit. Surely they can find someone at a better deal who can produce the 691 yards for cheaper?
Bringing in Antonio Brown in the 2021 free agency period could at least bring some offensive firepower to a struggling Texans team needing to rebuild.
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