The NFL’s position that free-agent receiver Antonio Brown won’t be placed on the Commissioner-Exempt list unless and until he signs with another team would seem to be a deterrent to any team signing him. It would seem to be, but it may not be.
Washington claimed linebacker Reuben Foster on waivers last year, knowing full well that they could end up paying him to not play. When he was indeed placed on paid leave after Washington claimed him on waivers, Washington paid out the balance of his $875,000 salary for 2018, at $51,470 per week.
A team that signs Brown would be required to give him a minimum salary of $1.03 million. That’s a game check in the amount of only $60,588 per week. If a team is willing to risk owing him that amount each and every week even if he lands on paid leave — and if Brown would be willing to accept a minimum salary along with, for example, significant per-game active roster bonuses and/or incentives — a deal easily can be done.
Continue to keep an eye on Washington. They need as many good players as they can find, they definitely need receivers, and Brown could play as soon as Monday night against the Bears. They didn’t hesitate to claim Foster last year, who had actually been arrested for domestic violence. Brown still hasn’t been, and quite possibly won’t be, arrested for anything he has done.
Here’s another reason to watch Washington: To the extent that former P.R. chief Tony Wyllie provided a voice of reason in these matters, he’s no longer there; the team announced on Friday his decision to leave the organization to work for the Special Olympics. So if Bruce Allen and/or Dan Snyder want to embrace a man who remains one of the best receivers (and one of the best players) in the NFL, who’s to tell them they shouldn’t?
Thirty-one teams can shout “hell no” as to the possibility of signing Brown. It takes only one to whisper, “OK.” At a potential cost of $60,588 per week in the event he’s placed on paid leave (with the ability to cut him even after he’s placed on paid leave), it would be foolish to presume that, at this moment, teams aren’t debating internally whether they’re willing to suffer a short-term P.R. hit and a relatively mild financial loss in order to do what every team (except maybe one) is constantly trying to do: WIN!