The Buccaneers think it’s all upside with Antonio Brown.
General manager Jason Licht told Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that signing the troubled star to a short-term deal is “no risk” for the organization.
“It’s an opportunity that we’re giving him, another opportunity, but it’s a one-year deal and if it doesn’t work, there’s no risk,” Licht said.
Brown, 32, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and has four first-team All-Pro nominations since entering the league as a Steelers sixth-round pick in 2010. The Central Michigan product has 841 catches, 11,263 receiving yards and 75 touchdowns in 131 career regular-season appearances.
“He’s just so explosive and sudden and so much stronger than he looks,” Licht said. “If you saw him in a grocery store, you wouldn’t think he’s a seven-time Pro Bowler. But man, he’s very strong, great hands, super explosive.”
Tampa is Brown’s fourth stop in under two years following a tumultuous, drama-laden stretch that included multiple brushes with the law and accusations of sexual assault and rape. He recently signed a contract for the remainder of the 2020 season at a prorated rate of $750,000 with up to $1.75 million in incentives, but has been warned that the team will have zero tolerance for any slip-ups.
“[Brown and coach Bruce Arians] had a very candid conversation and I don’t want to paraphrase,” Licht said. “But Bruce said to me, ‘He’ll be good.’”
Brown and Arians — who served as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011 — overlapped in Pittsburgh briefly. The wideout also has been living with friend and quarterback Tom Brady, who was a proponent of the signing and has vouched for Brown’s behavior.
The receiver served an eight-game suspension to start the year and is set to make his debut for the Buccaneers (6-2) on Sunday night against the Saints (5-2) in a battle for first place in the NFC South. It will be Brown’s first game since Sep. 15, 2019, when he caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown from Brady as as member of the Patriots.
“I expect him to be out there and he’s picked things up very quickly,” Licht added.
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