Antonio Brown is all set to make his highly anticipated return to the NFL with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Pittsburgh Steelers man has completed the eight-game sanction leveled on him by NFL officials.
After signing a one-year deal with the Buccaneers, Brown is tipped to make his Tampa Bay debut in Week 9 against the reigning NFC South champions, New Orleans Saints. The last time AB played in the league was more than a year ago for the Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots.
Can he prove to be a valuable addition to the Buccaneers offense, or is this going to be a ‘crash and fail’ experiment in Florida?
Despite the doubts surrounding Brown’s arrival, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht is expecting big things from the 7-time Pro Bowler. The senior Tampa Bay executive maintains that signing Antonio Brown to a short-term deal with minimum expenditure was a total ‘no-risk’ move.
“He’s just so explosive and sudden and so much stronger than he looks. If you saw him in a grocery store, you wouldn’t think he’s a seven-time Pro Bowler.
“But man. He’s very strong, great hands, super explosive… I expect him to be out there and he’s picked things up very quickly. It’s an opportunity that we’re giving him, another opportunity, but it’s a one-year deal and if it doesn’t work, there’s no risk. No risk.
“(Brown and Arians) had a very candid conversation and I don’t want to paraphrase. But Bruce said to me, ‘He’ll be good,'” Licht told NFL Network earlier this week.
Licht further spoke about how the existing Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, helped ease Brown’s inclusion in the team.
The Bucs GM seemed over-enthusiastic regarding the arrival of AB in Florida. Hopefully, his optimism bears some fruit with respect to the team’s display in the league.
“I was always told, as far as his work ethic goes, there is nothing like it, and that is definitely true. He just loves the game and loves to work.
“It was just to make sure we’re good. I personally talked to Mike and Chris, as well and they said, ‘Hey, we just want to win. We just want to win.’ For them, it was, ‘Whatever we can do.’
“We have a really great locker room. We have a selfless locker room and especially at that position. They embraced it,” Licht concluded.
The Buccaneers are turning out to be outside contenders for this year’s Super Bowl. They are right up there with the likes of Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, and the Green Bay Packers in terms of overall team display.
Will AB be the final piece of the puzzle in Florida that helps Tom Brady win his seventh Lombardi? Time will tell.