No, the New England Patriots aren’t going to sign Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots find themselves in a pretty good position with just one game left in the regular season. They have already clinched a playoff spot, and a win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 18 ensures they won’t fall any lower than the number 5 seed that they currently sit in. The AFC East division is still technically up for grabs too, but you shouldn’t count on the New York Jets to beat the Buffalo Bills.

Despite the positive vibes surrounding this team currently, it’s still clear they could benefit from some upgrades to their roster. Typically, those moves would have to wait until the offseason, but some premium pass catching talent may just end up becoming available late in the season.

In case you missed it, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown ripped off his uniform in the middle of yesterday’s Bucs game, and went to the locker room while the game was still being played. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians announced after the game that Brown was “no longer a Buc”, and while Tampa has yet to officially release him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brown end up becoming a free agent later this week.

While the incident from yesterday’s game obviously looms large, Brown’s talent is undeniable, and you can bet there are 31 other teams in the NFL watching his situation very closely. Despite that, don’t expect the New England Patriots to be one of the teams seriously looking into adding Brown to their roster. They were already burned by him once, and you can bet head coach Bill Belichick won’t put himself in that position again.

The New England Patriots won’t be bringing back Antonio Brown for a second stint with the team

The mere mention of Antonio Brown is a bit of a sore subject for New England fans. After forcing his way off of the Oakland Raiders roster in 2019, Brown proceeded to sign a one-year deal with the Patriots, giving the Pats a potentially deadly trio of wide receivers led by Brown, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon. Yet Brown played just one game in New England, as the team cut ties with him after he had a myriad of legal charges filed against him.

Brown’s deal, while just one-year long, took a rather big hit on the Patriots salary cap because they gave him a $9 million bonus. That quickly handicapped the Patriots in the ensuing free agency period, and while former quarterback Tom Brady probably wasn’t returning anyway, they couldn’t have given him the money to really make him consider changing his mind if they wanted.

Now this isn’t to say Brown is responsible for the demise of the Tom Brady era in New England, but his failed deal didn’t allow the Patriots to properly rework their pass catching corps. Unless Brown announces that he’s willing to play in New England on a vets minimum and never leave his house unless it’s for practice of gamedays, there’s no chance Belichick is going to get burned by him again.

But for as much of a lunatic as Brown is, he’s probably just as good a football player. Brown only played seven games this season, but it was the best he has looked since 2018, which was his last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heck, just last week he had 10 catches for 101 yards against the Carolina Panthers, so he’s clearly still got the talent.

After the Patriots came up short in the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes, it was generally assumed they would have to wait until the offseason to add another wide receiver to their roster. Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers have both done a pretty solid job holding down the fort recently, but it’s still clear that rookie quarterback Mac Jones would benefit from having a true top tier receiver at his disposal.

Brown is clearly just that. He’s versatile enough to line up all over the field, and you can’t really leave one man to cover him because he will get open everytime. You can make an argument that he benefitted from playing alongside guys like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Tampa Bay, but both of those guys missed last weeks game against Carolina.

If the New England Patriots wanted to add some reinforcements before the playoffs roll around, Brown may be right there for taking. Assuming he still wants to play, which is very much up in the air right now, Brown could join another playoff contender and provide them a huge boost down the stretch.

Pats are playoff bound, AB goes AWOL, Cincy beats KC. dark. Next

But Brown’s unpredictability is just too much of a risk, especially given there is literally just one game left in the regular season. Brown just ran off the field in a crucial Week 17 game out of the blue. Who’s to say he won’t do it again in a do-or-die playoff game?

Brown is talented, but he’s a player the Patriots should stay away from. There’s no sense counting a guy who has proven time and time again he cannot be counted on, regardless how good he is. The New England Patriots do need wide receiver help, but they are going to have to wait until the offseason to properly address the position, even with Brown potentially set to hit free agency.