The panache was unlike any other contract of the season.
The Buccaneers signed for a one-year Antonio Brown, ending a year away from football and reuniting Tom Brady with a teammate he has wanted to play with since they were together in New England.
For the good on the pitch, and for the bad off the pitch, Brown’s return to the NFL has made countless headlines. Now, as he prepares to return on Sunday night against Saints, Tampa Bay’s top reviewer has been pondering what he’s going to be like now when he gets back on the pitch.
“He̵7;s so explosive and sudden and a lot stronger than he looks,” Bucs GM Jason Licht told NFL.com after watching AB practice in Tampa. “If you saw him in a grocery store, you wouldn’t think he was a seven-time professional pitcher. But man. He’s very strong, great hands, super explosive.”
So, there. Tampa liked what they saw. And most likely, you will see a lot of him in the match against New Orleans. Coach Bruce Arians estimates his role could be 10-30 innings, and Licht’s extra playing time will depend on how the game plays out.
“I hope he gets out there and he collects everything very quickly,” Licht said, adding that the offense was “very similar” to what they had run with the Steelers and we could see Brown a lot.
A lot has gone into signing Brown, who was recently suspended for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal behavior policy multiple times following allegations of sexual misconduct and rape. In fact, there is still a civil action in backlog and it is possible that if a violation is found, another suspension could happen.
Licht, similar to Arians, says how the contract is structured – a year, $ 1 million with no guarantees – allows them to go out if Brown doesn’t fit or the off-pitch situation has to be secure.
“It’s an opportunity we’re giving him, another chance, but it’s a one-year deal and if it doesn’t work, there’s no risk,” Licht said. “No risk.”
In the first press conference after signing the contract, Arians said Brown would leave if he caused any problems.
“(Brown and Arians) had a very frank conversation and I don’t want to put it together,” Licht said. “But Bruce said to me, ‘He’ll be all right.'”
Licht reiterated that Brown’s attitude was “amazing by far.”
“I’ve always been told that, according to his work ethic, there’s nothing like it, and that’s certainly true. He just loves the game and loves to work,” Licht said.
Bucs have an offensive talent, especially in a wide receptive position. And that includes two of the best NFL players in Pro Bowlers: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (who is supposed to be playing even with a broken finger). Arians and Licht both talked to the reception team before Brown entered.
“It was just to make sure we were okay,” Licht recalls. “I personally talked to Mike and Chris and they said, ‘Hey, we just want to win. We just want to win.’ To them it is, ‘Anything we can do.’ “
“We have a really great dressing room,” concluded Licht. “A selfless dressing room and especially in that location. They’ve embraced it.”
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