Free-agency is a few weeks underway and things are seemingly going well for the reigning Super Bowl Champions. They’ve re-signed all of their big name free agents on their quest to “go for two” and look poised to carry their successes into the new season.
While Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown look to be luxury signings, there were reports that both were interested in coming back and that their deals looked imminent. For Fournette, this turned out to be the case as the veteran running-back recently re-signed to a one year deal.
For Brown however, things seem to be moving a little more slowly. It recently surfaced that the Buccaneers and Brown are just not coming to a consensus on what the seven time Pro Bowler should be making, per Mike Garafolo.
While the former Pittsburgh Steeler demonstrated in 2020 that he is still an elite talent, there are still concerns about his character and pending court case. This is primarily the reason he was only payed $2 million last year (incl. incentives), and most likely the reason that teams aren’t willing to break the bank for him in 2021.
With guys like Keelan Cole and Emmanuel Sanders signing around the $5 million/yr mark, Brown will probably be looking to get more than what he was paid last season, especially after showing that he can play half a season without distractions.
However, with the Bucs salary cap issues and the dead cap they’ve already pushed down the road for guys like Donovan Smith and Shaq Barrett, do they want to do the same with their third wide receiver?
Truthfully, I doubt that they care too much about doing that, especially because this is their first time pushing cap penalties to future years. Yet, would it be worth doing for Brown? Probably not and here’s why...they don’t really need him.
The Bucs currently roster two of the best receivers in today’s NFL and have a myriad of other weapons behind them and at the tight end position. While Tom Brady may really like Brown, he doesn’t really need him to succeed.
This was evident from the first eight games of the season during Brown’s suspension and was also shown during the NFC Championship Game that Brown missed due to injury.
By putting brown on the field, the Buccaneers are able to really spread out their offense as defenses have to focus on the speed that he brings. Yet, they also roster one of the faster wide receivers in the NFL with Scotty Miller.
When looking at Brown from the context of analytics, he isn’t even more valuable than Miller. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA statistic, Brown performs 8.9% better than the average receiver per play, when adjusting for opponent.
While this is nice to have, Scotty Miller ranks above him in this area and brings a score of 13.2%. The issue here is that even with Brown being a benefit to this offense, he’s taking someone like Miller off the field.
Even though Scotty Miller is primarily used as a speedy outside receiver, his production is something that the Buccaneers don’t want to miss out on. Without his late first-half heroics in Green Bay, we may not even be referring to the Bucs as Super Bowl Champions.
Now you might be thinking that Brown is also used in the slot and is able to do things that Miller cannot in this area. Although you would be correct in this observation, Chris Godwin is one of the best slot receivers in the league and someone who the Buccaneers are already paying a lot of money.
On top of this, Godwin is also a high-volume receiver who can block linebackers on one play, and catch a 50 yard bomb on the next. The versatility that he brings to the team is something that can’t be replaced by Brown and makes Brown look even more like a supplement, rather than a necessity.
Being a supplemental receiver is fine and something that the Bucs appreciated when Godwin and Mike Evans were struggling through injuries, but they can find an insurance policy for much less than what Brown is asking for.
I think it should also be mentioned that Tyler Johnson is someone worthy of seeing more on-field time. While he did struggle a bit with drops through the playoffs, he also made one of the most important catches of the Divisional Round and drew a pass interference penalty to seal the NFC Championship Game.
With receivers like Evans, Godwin, Miller, and Johnson, Brown is simply crowding the room and taking opportunities away from guys that will be on the team long-term. While it was nice to have him on the team in 2020, the Bucs just don’t need him to succeed.
Since he is asking for more than the Bucs are willing to pay him, it just doesn’t seem worth it. If he wants to bring his expectations down and sign for something close to the $2 million (w/ incentives), then I would be happy to bring him back.
If not, I say just let him sign somewhere else.
Is Antonio Brown a necessity for the 2021 Buccaneers?
This poll is closed
Yes, pay him whatever he wants.
No, let him walk.
Maybe, if he takes less than he’s asking.