Antonio Brown will be eligible to play in the NFL in about two weeks. He's on the verge of being a two-month rental for the 2020 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are close to agreeing on a one-year deal with the former All-Pro wide receiver, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.
Brown is scheduled to arrive in Tampa on Friday night for Day 1 of COVID-19 protocol. Rapoport added that if all goes well, Brown is expected to sign by the beginning of next week and will be eligible to play in Week 9 versus the Saints.
Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle first reported the development.
A.B. can thank his new and previous quarterback, Tom Brady, for this opportunity. Brady has been campaigning for the Bucs to pursue Brown since his own signing in March, per Rapoport and NFL Network's Michael Giardi. Coach Bruce Arians, Brown's offensive coordinator for his first two years with the Steelers, was adamant during free agency that Tampa Bay wasn't interested. That changed recently, with wideouts Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scott Miller all battling injuries. Brown and the Bucs have been quietly working on a deal, and they're on the verge of inking a short-term one that includes significant upside for the seven-time Pro Bowler, per Rapoport.
The 32-year-old Brown has been out of the league since playing one game with the Patriots last September. In July, he was suspended eight games for multiple violations of the league's personal-conduct policy, the result of a no contest plea to burglary and battery charges from a January incident in Florida, as well as accusations that he sent intimidating texts to a woman who accused Brown of making past unwanted advances toward her.
The mercurial wideout has since threatened to retire several times only to renege soon after. Now he's on the brink of joining a title contender. He had his options. On Thursday, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson endorsed Seattle as a "great place" for Brown to play. Pittsburgh, his home for the bulk of his 10-year career, once was too. No receiver in NFL history had a more prolific stretch than Brown's from 2013-17, when he caught 582 passes for 7,848 yards and 52 touchdowns.
In 2018, his last full season in the league, Brown caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and an NFL-best 15 touchdowns. But after being benched for Pittsburgh's season finale, Brown was traded to the Raiders the following spring.
A series of incidents in Oakland led to Brown's release, just six months after the Raiders dealt a third- and fifth-round selection for him. He signed a one-year deal with the Patriots the same day he was waived by the Raiders. Brown would last less than two weeks in New England, despite becoming fast friends with Brady, after allegations of sexual and personal misconduct surfaced.
After a year out of the game, Brown has a chance to catch touchdowns from the QB who threw him his last one.