On the surface, it doesn’t look like there’s much room in Tampa Bay for the Buccaneers’ newest receiver, Antonio Brown. The Buccaneers have been rolling just fine with the duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin along with their other weapons. But HC Bruce Arians acknowledged health played a role in Brown’s addition, and he’ll have the shortest of leashes.
“Injuries,” Arians said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I mean, we got two Pro Bowl receivers. We went to Chicago with none of them, really. They were hurt. And here’s a guy that’s a Pro Bowl type player . . . We’re on the hook for nothing in this deal. He screws up one time, he’s gone. I don’t think he will because he wants to play.”
Signing Brown is obviously a major risk given three teams have essentially paid to get rid of him last year. While Brown will finish an eight-game suspension, he still has an unresolved civil suit against him for sexual assault and harassment allegations. It’s a risk Arians is comfortable with despite notably saying earlier this year he was staunchly opposed to adding Brown.
“I think he’s matured, and I believe in second chances,” Arians explained via ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “Everybody wants to say that Tom picked him. Tom didn’t have anything to do with it. This was something Jason and I had been talking [about] for a couple weeks, ever since the injuries to our other guys. When the time was right, would we see if we could pull the trigger and fit him in to what we want to get done? And we’ll see. If Antonio does what I think he’s gonna do, I think he’s gonna be fine.”
- Arians said Evans (ankle), Godwin (hamstring) and Scotty Miller (hip) are all playing through injuries right now and told him they’re only 80-85 percent: “They’re hurting, they’re playing, but they’re nowhere near full speed. I think we can get better and better.”
- Arians pushed back again against the idea that QB Tom Brady was the driving force behind the move: “I know everybody wants to say Tom Brady lobbied us to get this done. Tom Brady lobbied me back in, gosh, June, July, August. I said no. It didn’t fit then. Now, we’re in the hunt… I owe it to the rest of our players to put the best team out there possible. I don’t foresee any problems. I don’t anticipate any situation where he and I are gonna have a problem. He knows that if there is, it’s a very short-lived contract.”
- Brown cannot practice with the team until Week 9 when his suspension is over, though he can attend meetings. (Laine)
- Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette is now the team’s passing-down back as well, per Arians, which is why his snaps were up this week. (Greg Auman)
The cap ramifications alone mean the Falcons are unlikely to trade WR Julio Jones despite their poor record on the season. And that’s okay with the veteran star wideout. While Atlanta’s looking at a long rebuild in the future and Jones could be open to a trade to try and have a better chance at winning a championship, he says he’s not looking to leave Atlanta.
“No,” Jones said via Kelsey Conway of the team’s official website. “I play football. I know who I am, I know what I got going on. I know what I mean to this team.”
Falcons QB Matt Ryan also wants to stick it out in Atlanta.
“I don’t worry about noise outside of our building,” Ryan said via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “…I want to be here and hopefully that will be the case.”
- According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is a long shot to play this Thursday against the Falcons but he will work his way back into practice this week as he pushes to play.
- Panthers released WR Seth Roberts. (NFLTR)
- Panthers released CB Josh Hawkins from their practice squad.
- Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio says Saints WR Michael Thomas‘ agents tried to get another team to trade with New Orleans for their client.
- Florio adds no offers have been sent to New Orleans and Thomas is not expected to be traded.