The Saints have visited with receiver Antonio Brown, but the Saints haven’t signed him, yet. They still may sign him at some point in the future.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, makes it clear that a signing could still occur.
“Antonio had a very good visit today and we will continue our discussions with the Saints,” Rosenhaus said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
As the Saints consider disrupting the league’s apparent kick-the-can plan with Brown, which has resulted in a 12-week unpaid suspension to end the 2019 regular season, New Orleans needs to be strategic with the timing of a decision to sign Brown. If they move at the right time (for example, on the Friday before a Saturday game), they may put the league not in check but in checkmate when it comes to any effort to keep him off the field.
While that would hardly be ideal for the Saints (Brown would need to practice with the team, at least a little), the idea of waiting for the right time to sign Brown makes plenty of sense. The Saints may not play another game until the divisional round; if that happens, there’s no reason to sign him during the bye week.
However it plays out, it’s important to remember that even if the league promptly puts Brown on paid leave after months of inaction, the team that signs Brown will be out nothing. All postseason pay comes from a league-wide playoff pool. So the paid leave would be paid, essentially, by the league.
And it would indeed be conspicuous for the league to immediately send Brown to the Commissioner Exempt list after weeks and weeks and weeks of taking no action — other than (perhaps) to scare teams away from signing him by vaguely hinting that placement on the Commissioner Exempt list is looming. Although the Commissioner has broad discretion in this regard, Brown was never arrested or charged. If the league still doesn’t have enough evidence to finalize Brown’s case, it becomes harder to understand how the league would suddenly have enough evidence to deprive him of the ability to play.