Tom Brady will have the luxury of throwing to a pair of 1,000-yard receivers -- Chris Godwin and Mike Evans -- when he takes over the Buccaneers' huddle this season. But, despite the talent he will already have at his disposal, NFL teams that were looking into signing Brady believe that the six-time Super Bowl champion Antonio Brown with him to his new team. Despite Brady's perceived wishes, the Buccaneers will likely pass on signing Brown, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Brown, who caught a touchdown pass from Brady in his lone game with the Patriots in 2019, is under investigation by the NFL following his inclusion in a civil suit from a woman accusing him of sexual misconduct and rape. Brown also allegedly sent threatening messages to another woman who said Brown previously made unwanted sexual advances towards her, which led to his release from the Patriots.
Brady and Brown have remained close after their short time as teammates came to an end, according to Rapoport.
"My understanding is that this is not something that Bruce Arians is in favor of," Rapoport said. "He's had Antonio Brown before. He had him a couple of years in Pittsburgh. It does not sound like it went well. It does not seem to be the direction the Bucs will be going."
Arians was the Steelers' offensive coordinator during Brown's first two seasons in Pittsburgh. In 2011, Arians' last season in Pittsburgh, Brown enjoyed his breakout season, earning his first of seven Pro Bowl selections while being tabbed as the Steelers' MVP. Arians, who last season went 7-9 during his first season as Tampa Bay's head coach, was critical of Brown during his one-year hiatus from coaching. Brown responded to Arians' criticism on social media, creating a short-lived back-and-forth. There didn't appear to be beef between Arians and Brown in 2015 when the two men embraced prior to Pittsburgh's regular season victory over the Cardinals, Arians' most recent team before coming to Tampa Bay.
Arians, a two-time NFL Coach of the Year, did praise Brown's ability as a player during his one year in broadcasting.
"He's one of the hardest working guys I've ever had," Arians said. "He just needs to go back to where the beginning was."
Arians is right. Before his recent off-field missteps, Brown was regarded as arguably the NFL's hardest-working player, as he could routinely been seen running extra sprints and pass patterns after practice while also getting in some extra work on the jugs machine. Brown's hard work paid off, as he became the first player in league history to catch at least 100 passes in six straight seasons. In 2015, Brown caught 136 passes for 1,834 yards despite the Steelers not having quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for four straight games and parts of eight games. Two years later, he led the NFL with 1,533 yards despite missing the last two games of the season with a lower-body injury.
In 2018, his final season in Pittsburgh, Brown led the NFL in touchdown receptions despite missing the final game of the regular season. And while it was only one game, Brown did not appear to show any signs of slowing down during his one game with the Patriots.
While Brown will still have to get cleared by the NFL before returning to the sideline, and while the Buccaneers are reportedly aren't interested, Arians clearly wants to win his first Super Bowl as a head coach before stepping away from the game for good. And if Arians thinks Brown can help him do that, a Brady-Brown reunion may still be in the works.