Barely 90 minutes after the Oakland Raiders granted his request to be released on Saturday, the New England Patriots announced the signing of the mercurial one, Antonio Brown.
Either the Patriots have the most efficient capologist in the NFL or they purposely wandered into gray area by having surreptitious conversations with Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, in anticipation the player would be available.
Knowing how the Patriots operate, either of the scenarios could make sense. And the second one might even be illegal. But that’s for the league to decide.
What’s certain is Brown has landed on his blistered feet again. Over the last year, his foolishness disrespected two of the proudest franchises in the league – the Pittsburgh Steelers and Raiders. He has whined and postured and acted immaturely to wrestle out and in and out again of situations.
But not only does he now have a helmet he likes, its one with the logo of the most successful franchise in pro sports over the last two decades.
Some guys have all the luck.
It should not surprise anyone that Brown is now a Patriot. This franchise has opened its doors for years to problem children, vowing to reform them and teach them what it means to play for the team. Is there really any difference between Brown and Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco or Josh Gordon?
The Patriots are thrilled to have Brown. The talk on Sunday night before, during and after their decimation of the Pittsburgh Steelers was how excited owner Robert Kraft and Tom Brady were to have the guy in the family.
Here’s what Al Michaels said on the air about a conversation he’d had with Kraft earlier in the day:
“Kraft told me that when he broke the news to Tom Brady, Brady initially said, ‘I’m a hundred percent in.’ Two minutes later, Tom came back and said to Kraft, ‘I’m a thousand percent in.’ Then he came back two minutes later and said, ”I’m a million percent in.'”
Meanwhile, the sleazy Rosenhaus also spoke to NBC on Sunday, telling the network Brady and Giselle had offered Brown the chance to live with them until he finds a place of his own. Imagine Brown squeezing fresh orange juice in the morning for the Brady bunch.
Brown is expected to be at Patriots camp on Monday. He flew into Providence on Sunday morning, but he couldn’t hang out with the fellas on Sunday night because he hadn’t signed his contract yet. But he will.
As you might suspect, everyone was queued up for Bill Belichick’s response to Brown’s arrival, but The Hoodie had no comment either before or after the 33-3 win. But Brady did.
“I think everybody is excited to add great players. It helps everybody when you have great players that are sharing the burden of a tough football season,” said Brady.
Look, we all know that Brown is a lunatic with an infatuation with social media that rivals that of a teenage girl. He’s also obsessed with his image and his money. But he’s also considered one of the game’s hardest workers and his resume is that of a future Hall of Famer. If his chin strap is tight, the Patriots are going to have another formidable offense.
Brown will join Gordon, another of the team’s reclamation projects. The oft-suspended Gordon has been signed, released and re-signed by the Patriots in the last year, understands what it’s like for a renegade to become a Patriot.
“For me, initially, it was a culture shock. It was definitely different,” Gordon told ESPN on Sunday. “I think as I grew in this environment, and got to observe other young men move and organize and act professionally, and expectations were high. … I knew, ‘This is the way it’s done here,’ and I could either get with it or look for a transition somewhere else. It’s tough, but if this is what you want to do, I think this is the best place to be.
“Antonio is going to have to figure out his way, just like everybody else has.”
It seems like Antonio has already figured out his way. It’s entirely likely Brown decided at some point this summer signing with the Raiders was a mistake and he asked Rosenhaus to gauge what interest the Patriots might have in him.
It’s known the Patriots were interested in Brown as far back in March, but the Steelers didn’t seem interested in trading the superstar receiver to a team in position to smack them down come playoff time
Faced with $215,000 in fines with the Raiders, knowing the team had also voided the $29,125 million guarantee, it could be Rosenhaus knew the Pats still wanted him. In fact, it’s conceivable the one-year, $15 million deal ($9 million signing bonus, $10 million guaranteed, $5 million incentives) was already in place when Brown asked for and received his release.
New England already has great depth at receiver with Gordon, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Demaryius Thomas. Their first-round pick, N’Keal Harry, should come off injured reserve about midseason. If Brown works out, the position will only be enhanced. If Brown blows up, they will still be OK.
Imagine the upside of having a seven-time Pro Bowler, a guy who has made at least 100 receptions in six straight seasons. Remember, Randy Moss had basically checked out with Raiders when Belichick brought him to town in 2007. Moss caught 23 touchdown passes that season.
Of course, he eventually burned out again by 2010. And Ochocinco did nothing with his Belichickian opportunity in 2011. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Its certain Brown’s ass will be cut – and his $9 million guarantee blown – the minute he begins to act up again. And Belichick will grimace when asked about it. But we will also have delivered another strong message to his locker room about accountability.
“You know, I think all us players are trying to be the best player that we can be for the team,” a Pats transcript quoted Brady as saying. “There’s a lot of things that play into that, but we’re all trying to reach our highest potential individually so that we can reach our highest potential collectively. It doesn’t come together just because you say, ‘Oh, all you guys are going to come together.’ Antonio’s had a lot of production, Demaryius [Thomas] has had a lot of production, Julian’s had a lot of production, Josh has had a lot of production, Phillip had a great game tonight.
“So, the point is we’ve got a lot of players that are talented and we’ve just got to figure out how to make it all work. We’re going to work hard. It’s a long year. It’s the beginning of a long marathon and the NFL’s very competitive and it’s going to be a great challenge, but I think we’re all looking forward to it.”