By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — On Sunday afternoon, there didn’t appear to be much left for interpretation regarding Antonio Brown’s status with the Buccaneers.
“He is no longer a Buc, all right? That’s the end of the story,” head coach Bruce Arians angrily told the media. “I’m not talking about him. He’s not a part of the Bucs.”
Yet it’s now Wednesday, and Brown remains very much a member of the Bucs. The wide receiver wasn’t released on Monday, and he wasn’t released on Tuesday, meaning his contract with the Buccaneers remains active.
Why and how that’s the case has yet to be explained, but the Brown situation appears to be far from resolved.
On the one hand, reporter Josina Anderson said that if Antonio Brown wants to play for someone else, there will be teams interested in his services. (Yes, despite … everything that comes along with Brown, he is that good at football.)
If Antonio Brown wants a job on another team in the NFL, he can have one. That is not an opinion. That is what I know.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 4, 2022
With the playoffs just a week ago, a team in need of a game-changing wide receiver — Kansas City or Green Bay, perhaps? — would certainly have to consider adding somebody like Brown if he became available. He did have a 10-catch, 101-yard day vs. Carolina (an excellent pass defense) just one week prior to his meltdown in New Jersey. And he had a seven-catch, 124-yard, two-touchdown day vs. Miami earlier this season. The Chiefs watched him catch five passes for 22 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl last year and know firsthand that he can contribute to a championship, under the right circumstances.
So perhaps the Buccaneers are seeking alternate routes to removing Brown from their roster, so as not to help out any opponents’ quest for a Super Bowl. Or perhaps Arians did not speak for the organization when he essentially kicked Brown off the roster on Sunday.
Outside of that aspect, it does appear that Brown is looking to fight back against Arians’ claims that the receiver was fully to blame for what happened Sunday.
According to The Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud, Brown’s ankle injury was serious, and the receiver was in real pain during Sunday’s game.
“[Brown’s friends] encouraged him to see a top surgeon outside the Bucs’ organization,” Stroud reported via Twitter. “That visit and an MRI confirm his serious pain and that story is developing. Antonio is known for having a high pain threshold but the belief is Antonio probably should’ve never been on the field to begin with Sunday. And official statement from Brown’s camp will be issued soon. They have stayed quiet since Sunday.”
Antonio is known for having a high pain threshold but the belief is Antonio probably should've never been on the field to begin with Sunday. And official statement from Brown's camp will be issued soon. They have stayed quiet since Sunday.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 4, 2022
Of course, Brown did not look particularly hobbled while bouncing off the field whilst half-nude, but the rebuttal will likely be proven or disproven in the imaging on that damaged ankle.
Naturally, the sight of Brown ditching his equipment and abandoning his team in the middle of a game was a once-in-a-lifetime type of event for most people who saw it happen. In the immediate aftermath, there was obviously some rash reaction from all sides.
Yet now with multiple days having passed and literally nothing changing about Brown’s status, the NFL world watches with wide eyes to see any inkling of a development in the situation.