Former Browns receiver Antonio Callaway claimed by XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers

Antonio Callaway might not be eligible to play at the start of the 2020 NFL season, but if all goes according to plan, he'll be back on a professional football field in a matter of weeks.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter noted Thursday, the former Cleveland Browns wide receiver has been claimed by the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, which relaunches this year after a 20-year hiatus.

Originally a fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 2018, Callaway flashed as a rookie target of Baker Mayfield, catching 43 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns. But his tenure in Cleveland lasted less than two seasons, as the Browns released the speedy wideout in November. Callaway had been suspended for the first four games of 2019 after violating the substance-abuse policy, then spent his first week after reinstatement on the bench after reportedly showing up late to team meetings.

 At the time of his release, Callaway was issued an additional 10-game suspension for a repeat drug violation -- a ban that'll end in Week 4 of 2020.

Callaway's Browns troubles weren't the first of his career. Once projected to be a first-round draft pick, his stock plummeted mostly to off-field concerns. The 23-year-old failed a drug test at the scouting combine and missed his entire 2017 season in college due to a team suspension.

If he suits up for the Vipers, the receiver will be back home in Florida, where he was born and raised and then played for the Gators. One of the XFL's eight inaugural franchises, Tampa Bay is coached by Marc Trestman, who previously coached the CFL's Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts and spent 2013-2014 as the Chicago Bears' head coach.

CBS Sports Writer

Cody Benjamin joined CBS Sports in 2017 after time spent with SB Nation, various newspapers and his own Eagles outlet. Raised around the Philly sports scene, he now lives in Minnesota with his wife and... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories