The New Orleans Saints went out on a limb on Friday by hosting troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown for a workout. Brown, who has been one of the best wideouts of the last decade, has been out of work since September due to allegations of sexual assault. The NFL has made it clear any club willing to sign Brown will do so knowing full well he'll likely be placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List due to the league's pending investigation.
While legal issues are one thing, Brown's unemployment has also been riddled with social media outbursts and online battles with current players. He's an outspoken receiver who marches to the beat of his own drum, and the Saints reportedly saw that during his workout on Friday.
"When you bring in Antonio Brown for a workout in Week 17, you also get a camera crew and an entourage," NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported on Saturday morning. "That's what Antonio Brown showed up with yesterday -- that's what I was told -- referred to by a Saints source as 'the whole bleep show' showed up with Antonio Brown."
What's even more interesting is that Brown was not the only player that the Saints tried out on Friday, so his production may have a couple of guest appearances by other free agents. New Orleans made the decision not to sign Brown or any of the other players who worked out for the team, and naturally, Saints head coach Sean Payton faced numerous questions about the decision to bring Brown in for a look.
"The process is something we take seriously, and it's important relative to the makeup of the team," said Payton, whose team is 12-3 entering Sunday's regular season finale against the Panthers. "We're doing our homework. I think part of that is credibility we've already established. There's been a number of players that we've signed or drafted in years past. Some worked out, some haven't."
"I had never met him before," Payton continued, "so I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to him, just like I did with the other five players."
Brown was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders this offseason, but never played a snap for the Silver and Black. He was released ahead of the regular season following several issues like frostbitten feet, a drawn-out helmet grievance and a semi-public disagreement with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. Brown was then signed by the New England Patriots, and played in the 43-0 victory against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. In his one game with Tom Brady, he caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.