Mike Evans and Chris Godwin already form arguably the best receiver duo in the NFL. Now imagine adding Antonio Brown to that equation.
Tom Brady reportedly is signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the NFL league year opens, and he hopes to bring Brown with him to central Florida once the mercurial wideout is cleared by the league, according to reports Wednesday from NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport.
Just mentioned on @nflnetwork: The NFL says Antonio Brown?s status remains under review. If he?s cleared to play, would the #Bucs sign him? Other suitors were under the impression Tom Brady wanted AB to come with him. It?d give Brady a WR group of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and AB.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 18, 2020
As @TomPelissero and I discussed on TV, the word among teams interested in Tom Brady were among the impression that Brady wanted to bring Antonio Brown with him to a new team. Brown is still under investigation, and remains to be seen when he can play. But Brady is close with him
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2020
Brady and Brown spent 11 tumultuous days together in New England last September, with the latter appearing in just one game and a handful of practices before being released amid allegations of rape and sexual assault. Brown clearly made a strong impression on the 42-year-old quarterback, however, as the two continue to communicate on social media. They’ve stayed in touch offline, as well, according to reports.
“Two people close to Antonio Brown — yes, that Antonio Brown — told us Brady keeps in consistent contact with Brown and has told Brown he wants to play with him wherever Brady goes next,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported earlier this month. “According to one of Brown?s attorneys, Brady has told Brown to keep mentally and physically strong so the two can reunite on the field at Brady?s next stop.
“Anything concerning Brown should be taken with not a grain but a bucket of salt at this point, but it does seem as if Brady and Brown formed at least some level of connection in their incredibly brief time together in New England.”
Before flaming out with the Oakland Raiders and Patriots, Brown was an elite pass-catcher for the Pittsburgh Steelers, surpassing 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons and hauling in 74 touchdowns. In his last full season, in 2018, he caught 104 passes for 1,297 and an NFL-best 15 scores.
Brown hasn’t officially been suspended by the NFL, which, as of Super Bowl week, had yet to complete its investigation into the 31-year-old, but it was believed he’d be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list had he signed with another team this past season. It’s unclear whether he’d be permitted to play if he joined the Buccaneers this offseason.
Brown also would need to mend fences with Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, who said in January 2019 the receiver had become “too much (of a) diva.” Arians coached Brown for five seasons as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator (2007 to 2011).
Evans and Godwin — Tampa Bay’s top two receivers — both surpassed 1,000 yards while catching passes from Jameis Winston last season. Bucs tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate also are upgrades over the lackluster group Brady played with in 2019.