Antonio Brown re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or a new team for 2021 may hinge on one of the NFL’s biggest events of the year that’s only three weeks away — the NFL Draft.
Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times wrote that “a market could be created for Brown” depending on the NFL Draft results for teams on April 29-May 1. At this time, contract negotiations have apparently stalemated between Brown and the Bucs, and no other team has jumped to sign the star wide receiver.
Tampa has limited room to sign its draft picks with $5.076 million in salary cap space according to the NFL Players Association’s latest numbers, Knight reported. There still may be free agent signing needs, too.
Brown could ask for at least as $5 million as the free agent market for top wide receivers has ranged from $5 million to $8 million per year, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported. Keelan Cole, for instance, signed for $5 million with the New York Jets, Garafolo noted.
Brown, who made $2 million in 2020 off a one-year, $1.6 million with incentives, commanded more money with a solid second half of the season. He made 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight regular season games. Despite missing time due to a knee injury in the playoffs, he caught eight passes for 81 yards, and two touchdowns. His off-field matters remain the issue, especially a civil lawsuit with an upcoming trial in December.
The Bucs only appear interested in another “prove it type” contract, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on The Pat McAfee Show. Knight called it “leftovers” and won’t be “a bonanza for Brown” if he stays in Tampa.
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Bucs Receiver Needs
Additionally, the Bucs already have star wideouts in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans plus reliable targets in Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. The need for Brown could shrink if the Bucs take a receiver in the draft, which isn’t out of the question with management this year.
“This year, going into this draft, it is going to be the best player … I cannot really say I have ever gone into a draft not having a need, a drastic need, so it is going to be fun,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said in a March 30 press conference per WFLA’s Gabrielle Shirley.
Purdue receiver Rondale Moore could interest the Bucs at pick 32 in the first round, for instance. Moore had a strong Pro Day and is gaining interest among teams, Buccaneers.com’s Carmen Vitali reported.
Other Suitors for Brown
A more wideout-hungry team may offer higher pay for Brown, Knight noted, especially after the draft. Two of the most-reported suitors could also see their receiver needs change with the draft.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has vouched for Brown coming to the Pacific Northwest this offseason. The Seahawks have talented wideouts in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf but need a third receiver after losing David Moore in free agency to the Carolina Panthers.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson recently worked out with Brown, and his cousin, Ravens wideout “Hollywood” Marquise Brown. Jackson also showed interest in Brown joining the Ravens in 2020 according to NBC Sports Washington. The Ravens already made one big move at receiver this offseason, however, by signing Sammy Watkins to a one-year, $5 million contract per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Otherwise, the Ravens receiver room is “in need of development” Baltimore Sun reporter Jonas Shaffer noted.