The Buccaneers are done with receiver Antonio Brown. Unless they aren’t.
As ESPN reported earlier today, the Buccaneers didn’t release Brown today, due to “ongoing discussions” with the league regarding “how to move ahead.”
Via Mark Maske of the Washington Post, there is no consideration of league-imposed discipline for Brown as a result of Sunday’s incident. Instead, the Buccaneers and the league are discussing the “procedural steps” and the “designation” that the team will use on Brown.
On one hand, the Bucs could be concerned about waiving a player while injured — even though coach Bruce Arians claims he didn’t know Brown refused to re-enter the game due to injury. (Brown had been listed as questionable on the Week 17 injury report, with an ankle problem.) On the other hand, the Bucs could be looking for a way to not have their cake and not let anyone else eat it, keeping Brown off the roster while also not having to worry about him resurfacing with another contender.
If Brown were to be released, he’d be subject to waivers. Anyone could claim his contract for Week 18, even teams that aren’t contenders. (The Steelers could do a spite-claim, as could the Raiders or the Patriots.) If he clears waivers, he can sign with any team. The Chiefs, Packers, and Rams are the teams I’d be watching most closely.
The Buccaneers, as we mentioned last night, could choose to suspend Brown four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. That would keep him from landing elsewhere, with the Buccaneers having to make a move not sooner than the days following championship weekend.
If the Bucs are truly done with Brown, they should just let him go. But they’re also trying to win another Super Bowl. And if Brown ends up helping another team keep that from happening for Tampa Bay, someone would have some explaining to do to the de facto owner of the team. You know, the guy who wears number 12.