Tom Brady is about to reunite with another member of his Patriots receiving corps, one with whom he only shared one game and one touchdown.
Antonio Brown, his eight-game suspension to begin the 2020 season close to ending, is signing a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to ESPN. The Houston Chronicle had the initial report of what was expected to be a Saturday visit between the sides.
Brown can play once the team that signs him completes eight games, which Tampa would do with its Monday night game against the Giants on Nov. 2. The four-time All-Pro during his nine seasons in Pittsburgh with the Steelers would thus be eligible for Tampa’s home game with New Orleans scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 8.
Now 32, Brown bounced from the Steelers to the Raiders to the Patriots last season, hauling in four of eight targets and that touchdown in a blowout win at the Dolphins. Five days later, he was gone, the team declaring “we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”
News had broken that Brown sent threatening texts to a woman who’d accused him of sexual assault. Sitting out the rest of the year, Brown pleaded no contest in June to a felony burglary with battery charge and two lesser misdemeanors related to a January incident outside his Florida home. That finally prompted the NFL to suspend the free agent without pay for the first half of the 2020 season.
At that time, Brown expressed both through his agent and social media he was looking forward to playing again. He announced his retirement from football in July on social media, but recanted later in the week.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who invited Brown to work out with him this summer, told reporters on Thursday. “From the conversations I’ve had with him, he’s really been remorseful and he’s been humbled along the way. Like I said, I pray that he can continue to grow, just like anybody.”
Seattle had been the initial favorite to sign Brown due in large part to that connection, as well as warm words from Pete Carroll about the wideout. Brady, however, beat them out.
He visited with Brown in Miami during Super Bowl week, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in March that, days from signing with Tampa Bay, Brady was eager to bring Brown to his new team. The 42-year-old is gelling well with his new pass catchers, completing 64.1 percent of his passes through his first six games with the Bucs, with 1,541 yards and 14 touchdowns against four interceptions.
Eight different Buccaneers have a touchdown reception through six games, with Mike Evans the runaway leader with six. Old friend Rob Gronkowski had his best game of the season in Sunday’s upset of Green Bay, with his first touchdown and 78 yards from five catches.
Brady’s coach, Bruce Arians, had said in March on CBS Sports Radio “it’s not gonna happen” when asked about the possibility of Brown joining the Buccaneers.
“There’s no room, you know? Probably not enough money. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s just not a fit here,” Arians said, in part. “I just know him, and it’s not a fit in our locker room.”