The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a significant risk this week, signing suspended receiver Antonio Brown to a one-year deal. Brown hasn’t played since Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season. He was released by the New England Patriots after being accused of rape.
Brown also has other off the field issues, including charges of felony burglary conveyance, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor criminal mischief stemming from an incident with a delivery driver in January. Brown is also facing a lawsuit after allegedly trashing a condo. The opposing lawyer in that lawsuit accused Brown of “reprehensible behavior” for how Brown acted during a deposition.
Because of that, the financial risk of signing Brown was low. The Buccaneers picked up Brown for just above the minimum, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. If Brown is anywhere close to the player he was in 2018, the Buccaneers got an exceptional receiver for next to nothing.
While Bucs fans can try to tout that as a good thing, there’s one aspect of Brown’s contract with the Bucs that could become a major issue once Brown is able to play in Week 9.
Antonio Brown’s incentives could be an issue for Bucs
Brown’s base salary might be relatively low, but he can make more money based on team and individual incentives, according to Garafolo.
— GMFB (@gmfb) October 24, 2020
The team incentives aren’t a big deal, but the individual incentives could present a problem depending on how Brown views this opportunity. If Brown is hoping to join the Bucs, immediately become the team’s No. 1 option and catch 10+ balls per game, that could be an issue. Brown hasn’t played in the NFL in over a year, and the Bucs have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at receiver. If healthy, Evans and Godwin will command snaps and opportunities, meaning Brown could take a backseat to both players.
If Brown is out to maximize his salary, that could make things uncomfortable. Will Brown be content if Evans and Godwin are the Bucs’ primary targets? Brown has been outspoken about his lack of targets in the past. Tom Brady may have played a big role in Brown signing with the Bucs, but will Brady feel the same way if he’s getting berated by Brown over how many balls were thrown his way? There’s potential for the signing to implode in a major way.
How does Antonio Brown view his role with the Bucs?
All of those concerns could be moot if Brown is only concerned with getting back into the NFL. If Brown performs well, and doesn’t cause any issues off the field or in the Bucs’ locker room, he’ll set himself up for a lucrative contract in free agency.
After being released by the Patriots, Brown has expressed a desire to return to the NFL multiple times. This could be his final opportunity to show teams he’s worth a roster spot. If Brown takes that approach in 2020, the signing could give the Bucs the best receiving corps in the league.
Other players in Brown’s position might recognize that and try not to ruffle any feathers with the Bucs. As Brown has proved many times, however, every possible scenario is on the table when he’s involved.
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