FOXBOROUGH — There’s an empty spot just two spaces from where Tom Brady sets up shop in the Patriots’ locker room.
The stall, with no signage above it, sits between those belonging to Phillip Dorsett and Demaryius Thomas and it’s a likely landing spot for the New England’s newest resident and Brady’s newest receiver, Antonio Brown.
The Patriots made the Brown signing official Monday afternoon, giving Brady one of the most prolific pass-catching corps in NFL. The signing caps a madcap week for Brown, who was released after a short but tumultuous tenure in Oakland.
To make room for Brown, the club waived safety Obi Melifonwu, the former UConn star and Grafton native, who came back to New England midway through last season after coincidentally also being released by the Raiders. Melifonwu was Oakland’s second-round pick in 2017.
Brown arrived at Gillette Stadium bright and early Monday – 6:58 a.m. according to his Snapchat account – to undergo a physical and sign his contract.
According to an NFL Media report, Brown’s deal includes a $1 million fully guaranteed base, a $9 million signing bonus ($5 million immediately, $4 million later), $500,000 in game-day roster bonuses, and $1.5 million in incentives for 105 catches, 1,298 yards, and 16 touchdowns. (Brown had 104 catches, 1,297 yards, and league-high 15 TDs last season.)
The max value of the deal is $15 million this year with a $20 million team option for 2020 that’s guaranteed if it’s picked up.
Brown wasn’t spotted in the locker room during media availability but did have some interaction with his new teammates.
“Friendly guy,’’ said Joe Thuney, with the left guard adding, “yeah,” when asked if he thought Brown would fit in with the Patriots, his third team in less than a year.
Brown’s time with both the Steelers and Raiders ended on sour notes and Patriots running back Rex Burkhead was asked why some players that have had issues in other outposts have found success in New England.
“I think people understand when you come here you can’t really make mistakes or you know, do things that are going to be distractions for the team,’’ said Burkhead, now in his third year with the team. “You’ve got to walk in, buy in, and understand that it’s a team atmosphere and there’s goals that if you buy in and take part in that you’re going to be successful and you’re going to have an opportunity to play on the field.’’
Brown’s first opportunity on the field will come in Wednesday’s practice and he’ll be eligible to play Sunday in the Patriots game at Miami.
Two tight ends cut loose
In addition to Melifonwu, the Patriots also released tight ends Lance Kendricks and Stephen Anderson. Kendricks had been suspended for the last week for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. Anderson was released Aug. 31 but quickly signed on to the team’s practice squad, where he spent the majority of last season before a late-season promotion. He never made it to a game-day roster . . . Rookie Gunner Olszewski was sporting a pretty good bruise on his newly broken nose, suffered when he was hit by Pittsburgh’s Ryan Switzer while covering a kick . . . Stephen Gostkowski had a perfect night Sunday, going 4 for 4 on field goals and 3 for 3 on extra points. Bill Belichick was pleased with the work of Gostkowski, new holder Jake Bailey, and long snapper Joe Cardona. “I thought our field goal operation was good,’’ said the coach. “Pittsburgh’s a good rush team. They challenged us with the field goal rush. To be able to hold up on that, both punt and field goal protections was a key part of the game for us. I thought Stephen hit the ball well. The kickoffs, and the field goals, and extra points, the operation – Joe, Jake, and Steve – was good.’’ . . . Kyle Van Noy, who missed the Steelers game because his wife was in labor, announced the birth of their son on Twitter Monday. “Last night was incredible! We welcomed a young king into the world. Trae Ledgend Van Noy!!!!!! Mom is doing great we appreciate all the love and prayers.’’