After a litany of off-field issues, it long seemed unclear if Antonio Brown would ever play in the NFL again. Now that the former superstar wide receiver is nearing the end of his eight-game suspension, however, Brown appears one step closer to resuming his career, with ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting Wednesday that "teams are positioning themselves" to pursue him.
Does that mean a team should sign him? Brown's roller-coaster journey of the last year or so, which included essentially forcing his way out of three different organizations, suggests the risk might be greater than the reward at this point. And yet Brown, who just turned 32, still appears in tip-top shape with a Hall of Fame-caliber resume under his belt.
With that in mind, here's a stab at the five most likely landing spots for Antonio Brown:
5. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners showed their willingness to put up with personality in order to get a big-time WR when they admittedly explored Odell Beckham Jr. trade talks in the past. Brown is a different breed entirely, sure, but is there a more tantalizing potential addition to Kyle Shanahan's attack, which could use a prototypical stud out wide with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and the rest of the bunch doing what they do best in the screen/run game? San Francisco has battled injuries at WR all year. Brown would be a surefire way to boost that unit and help Jimmy Garoppolo carry momentum into the later part of the year.
The Titans are a tightly-run organization under Mike Vrabel (unless you're talking about their COVID-19 response), but that could make them especially equipped to import and handle someone like Brown. Second-year pro A.J. Brown is a star in the making, and both Corey Davis and Adam Humphries have been solid when healthy. But what better way to sustain Ryan Tannehill's great play for the stretch run than by installing an elite route-runner like Brown? There's also the fact the Titans were very interested in trading for Brown just a year ago. Things have changed, yes, but so have Tennessee's title hopes.
Lamar Jackson, the NFL's reigning MVP, has said he loves Brown and wants to play with him. Brown's cousin Marquise just happens to be on the roster at the same position. And the Ravens could use a veteran addition to a WR group and offense that is both competing for a title run and struggling to lock down an offensive identity. Does this franchise want another potential PR hit by bringing Brown's baggage into an otherwise up-and-coming locker room? Perhaps they'd ultimately believe Lamar Jackson's star power is enough to overshadow and/or reel Brown in. Just imagine unleashing a motivated AB against the Steelers late in the season.
The Packers aren't usually one for splashy, let alone controversial moves, but they still have a WR need after leaving the position largely unaddressed in the offseason. Davante Adams is the clear-cut No. 1, but fellow starter Allen Lazard is banged up, and Aaron Rodgers has proven he's got more than enough arm talent to make a serious run in 2020. Better yet: Adding Brown wouldn't require them to spend any future draft picks, as would be the case in a hypothetical deadline trade for someone like A.J. Green.
Where there's smoke, there's fire, and let's just say the Seahawks have been smoky for a long time. They actively searched for WR help to pair with Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf before the season, they've got a history of taking chances on troubled veterans, but most of all, they've been as close to outright campaigning for Brown's arrival as anyone. Russell Wilson has reportedly been pining for AB behind closed doors for months and worked out with the WR this summer. Wilson's backup, Geno Smith, is good friends with Brown and has been advocating for his return on social media. Coach Pete Carroll, meanwhile, has repeatedly left the door open for a move down the road.