Antonio Brown and the Buccaneers have reached an agreement on a one-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora had previously confirmed there was "extreme interest" on both sides to get a deal done, and that Tom Brady had been pushing for it. Brown, pending he passes COVID-19 protocol, will likely make his Buccaneers debut against the Saints in Week 9.
The Seahawks were considered to be in the mix to land Brown prior to Friday night's development. Tampa Bay, perhaps in anticipation of signing Brown, recently freed up $4 million in cap space after restructuring guard Ali Marpet's contract.
How significant is the addition of Brown to Tampa Bay? According to SportsLine data scientist, Stephen Oh, the Buccaneers' simulated win total has increased from 10 to 10.4 wins. The Buccaneers' odds at winning the NFC South rose from 43.5% to 52.5%, while their odds at making the playoffs increased from 76.9% to 84.9%. Tampa Bay's odds at winning the NFC has gone from 13.1% to 18%, while its odds at winning this year's Super Bowl -- which will be held in Tampa -- has increased from 5.4% to 8.2%.
The move reunites Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro receiver, with Brady, who was Brown's teammate for a brief time during his final season with the Patriots, and coach Bruce Arians, who was Brown's offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh during his first two seasons in the NFL.
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Arians, who is in the middle of his second season as the Buccaneers' coach, was asked about the possibility of Tampa Bay signing Brown during an appearance on CBS Sports' Tiki and Tierney back in March.
"Yeah, it's not gonna happen," he said. "There's no room. It's just not gonna happen. It's just not a fit here."
It appears that Arians, with some coaxing from his quarterback, may have had a change of heart, as the Buccaneers appear to be close to signing Brown, whose eight-game suspension from the league is about to expire.
The Buccaneers are 4-2 entering Sunday's game against the Raiders. They are currently eighth in the NFL in scoring, averaging 29.5 points per game. Brady, who signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers this offseason, is completing 64.1% of his passes with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
With Chris Godwin hampered by injuries, Scott Miller has emerged as Tampa Bay's second-leading receiver behind Mike Evans. The duo of Evans and Miller has combined to catch 49 passes for 537 yards thus far. Evans leads the Buccaneers with six touchdown receptions, while tight end Rob Gronkowski, who ended his one-year retirement to join the Buccaneers, has caught 17 of 28 targets for 218 yards. He caught first touchdown with his new team during last Sunday's 38-10 win over the Packers.
Brown, who turned 32 years old on July 10, was the NFL's most prolific receiver from 2013-18. During that span, Brown became the first player in league history to catch at least 100 passes for six consecutive seasons. HIs best season took place in 2015 when, despite not having Ben Roethlisberger for four games, he set career highs with 136 receptions for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In 2017, Brown was gaining MVP momentum before a lower body injury held him out of Pittsburgh's final two games of the regular season. Brown, despite not being 100% healthy, returned for the Steelers' divisional round playoff game against the Jaguars, where he managed to catch seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in Pittsburgh's 45-42 loss.
Brown, who was traded from Pittsburgh to Oakland following an unceremonious ending with the Steelers, was released by the Raiders before the start of the 2019 season. He played just one game with the Patriots (catching four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown) before being released following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Brown has remained unsigned since being released by the Patriots last September.