Antonio Brown's 2020 season ended in ultimate triumph when his Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.
His 2021 season should begin on a better note than 2020 did. The receiver underwent a successful knee surgery on Tuesday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday. The procedure was essentially a clean-up of Brown's knee, per Rapoport, addressing some issues that hindered Brown in 2020.
Brown agreed to a new deal to stay with the Buccaneers earlier this offseason, but the contract has yet to become official because Brown must first pass a physical, coach Bruce Arians said during an appearance on The Pewter Report Podcast. The procedure will require a few weeks of recovery before Brown can return to football activities, per Rapoport.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told JoeBucsFan.com's Ira Kaufman he wasn't worried about Brown's status entering 2021, saying it's simply a matter of time before Brown is under contract.
"No, not concerned," Licht said. "The plan all along is to have him come in -- I think he is coming in Monday to sign."
Once seen as one of the league's premier wideouts, Brown has encountered plenty of off-field issues in the last year or so. He landed with Tampa Bay during the 2020 season after appearing in just one game in 2019 and joined the Buccaneers as a premier third option in their loaded receiving corps. Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four scores during eight regular-season games, then caught eight passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the postseason, including one score in Super Bowl LV.
At 32 years old, Brown is on the back nine of his NFL career. But with the Buccaneers, he finds himself in the optimal situation, one in which he won't need to be a No. 1 target for his team's offense and can also benefit from receiving passes from the greatest quarterback in the game's history, Tom Brady. A return to Tampa Bay made plenty of sense, provided the Buccaneers wanted him back.
As Arians said during his podcast appearance, that's exactly what he and the Buccaneers desired. With the knee operation now out of the way, it's only a matter of time before that return becomes official.