If I’ve learned one lesson while covering the New England Patriots for six seasons, it’s that absolutely anything is possible.
They signed James Harrison late in the 2017 season after the veteran pass rusher had forced his way off of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They traded for Josh Gordon early in the 2018 season after the Cleveland Browns of all teams had finally had it with the talented wideout. They beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI after trailing 28-3 midway through the third quarter. Head coach Bill Belichick quoted “My Cousin Vinny” in a news conference early in a two-year scandal involving the air pressure of footballs. They benched Malcolm Butler. They traded Jimmy Garoppolo. They played a game without a backup quarterback. They began a season with Jordan Devey as their starting right guard. They drafted a wide receiver in the first round.
Anything is possible. Everything is on the table.
So, would they sign a Kodiak bear to play left tackle? Sounds interesting. Sure, maybe. Could work.
Would they play a king cobra at outside linebacker as a form of distraction? Not the worst idea. Maybe Patrick Mahomes is afraid of snakes.
Would they sign an Olympic wrestler and move him to guard? Yeah, they already did that. Think crazier. Would they sign a rookie Division II cornerback, move him to wide receiver and keep him on their active roster? Yeah, they did that too. Would they decide to play a kick returner at running back after they’ve run out of depth at the position? Did it. Would they sign Antonio Brown after he crazied his way out of Oakland before ever playing in a game with the Raiders? Probably not. But is it out of the realm of possibility? No, nothing is.
Antonio Brown is a top-five wide receiver in the NFL. He’s also a complete and utter liability who is entirely impossible to rely upon. But would it be best for the football team to have Antonio Brown, who had 104 catches for 1,297 yards with 15 touchdowns last season, in the Patriots’ offense alongside Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon? Uh, yeah. It sure would.
Everyone is already predicting the Patriots will sign Brown.
If anyone could do it and anyone could handle it, it would be Belichick and the Patriots. They would limit his availability to the media, do the complete opposite of what Jon Gruden just tried with the Raiders, and as soon as one thing went wrong, they’d cut bait.
It’s not like there’s a whole lot of certainty at wide receiver right now anyway. They have Gordon, who already was suspended last season, a 33-year-old Edelman, Demaryius Thomas coming off of a torn Achilles, two undrafted rookies in Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, N’Keal Harry, a first-round pick, on injured reserve, Cameron Meredith on the PUP list and Phillip Dorsett, who’s best utilized as a fourth option. It’s a solid group with question marks all over. Adding Brown to the mix wouldn’t really make that position more or less precarious. The Patriots already are carrying extra players at the position, and they have built-in insurance with Harry and Meredith eligible to return at midseason.
The biggest question is whether Brown actually wants to play football. All signs in Oakland pointed to no. If he does, and if he wants to sign a one-year deal with New England to prove it was actually the Raiders, not him, who was crazy, then I don’t know. Nuttier stuff has happened. After the Patriots signed Harrison, I learned to never say never.