The Antonio Brown Dilemma For the Ravens

Troubled NFL star Antonio Brown is in the news again, this time expressing his desire to play again next season. Brown was a guest on the “I Am Athlete” podcast hosted by former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, Fred Taylor, and Channing Crowder. Brown was asked who he would like to play for if he had a choice in his return. Without hesitation Brown responded ” Lamar Jackson action Jackson”. Brown, a Florida native is the cousin to current Ravens receiver Marquise Brown and the two were seen working out with Lamar Jackson during the offseason leading up to the 2020 season.

Brown’s response to the question created a frenzy on social media with Brown adding fuel to the fire in his hope of joining the Ravens by posting a photo of himself in a Ravens uniform on his verified twitter account on Tuesday.

The Ravens now face a decision, do they sign one of the best receivers statistically of all time with hopes that he doesn’t have any issues on and off the field? The risk is high when it comes to Antonio Brown. While his on the field play has never been questioned, having caught 837 passes for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns in his nine year career. It’s Brown’s over the top antics and outbursts that have caused him to be released from four teams in three seasons.

In 2018 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers Brown was benched for the team’s week 17 finale after reportedly arguing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and skipping practice that week. Brown was allegedly becoming unhappy with his role with the Steelers and requested a trade.

Brown was traded to the Raiders to begin the 2019 season. Brown missed 10 of the Raiders first 11 training camp practices after getting frostbite on his feet during a cryotherapy session. After healing from his injury Brown continued to miss practices as he argued with the NFL, which had banned the helmet Brown had worn during his entire career up to this point. After an outburst towards Raiders GM Mike Mayock who had fined Brown for his missed practices, Brown demanded his release and was released by the Raiders before the start of the 2019 season.

On the same day he was released by the Raiders, Brown would be signed by the New England Patriots. Not long after signing with the Patriots reports surfaced of sexual and personal misconduct against him. Even with the allegations against Brown he continued to practice with the Patriots in preparation for his week two debut. As more evidence came to light against Brown, including an instance where he sent “intimidating text messages to one of his accusers”, Brown was released by the Patriots.

After his release from the Patriots, Brown stated he was retiring from the NFL, but just a few days later would change his mind expressing interest of playing again. The NFL would suspend Brown for the first eight games of the 2020 season for violating the leagues personal-conduct policy.

Despite his impending suspension Brown was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reuniting with Tom Brady, and Bruce Arians, who was Browns offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. After returning from his suspension, it was reported that Brown broke a security camera and threw a bicycle at a security guard. No action from the NFL was taken after the report. Brown finished the season with Tampa Bay helping the Buccaneers to a Lombardi trophy.

Brown would return to the Buccaneers for the 2021 season. Brown was placed on the Covid-19 list and missed a week three matchup against the Rams because he was still on the list. Reports began to come out that Brown and two other members of the Buccaneers supplied the team with fake vaccination cards. Brown would be suspended three games for violating the the leagues Covid-19 protocols by misrepresenting his vaccination status after an investigation was completed by the NFL. Finally in week 17 as the Buccaneers were taking on the New York Jets, Brown was seen on the sideline taking off his pads, gloves and shirt, before running of the field in the middle of the game. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians in his post game press conference expressed that Brown was no longer apart of the team, and was officially released four days later.

Since his week 17 outburst Brown has been in the news frequently as he has been on various podcasts explaining why he left the field as well as his mental health. Brown and his legal team plan to pursue legal action against the Buccaneers for being released by the team because he refused to return to play saying he was too injured to do so.

Brown has a lot of baggage and while his on the field play could elevate the Ravens offense, his inability to stay out of trouble is a cause for concern that will likely keep him out of Baltimore. The Ravens offense under Greg Roman has been highly criticized and many have called for Roman’s firing. With some uncertainty for the Ravens as to who will be their offensive coordinator in 2022, and with Brown who has been known to be vocal about his targets. Joining a Ravens team that is very much run first, and with two receivers in Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown becoming Jackson’s go to targets, on paper the Ravens don’t feel like the proper fit for Antonio Brown. The Ravens have a young locker room with very few vocal leaders, Brown struggled in Tampa Bay with a veteran locker room that had Tom Brady to keep himself in check.

Another question would revolve around the type of contract the Ravens would be willing to give Brown. The Ravens are currently projected to have around $14 million in cap space. Brown expressed his displeasure with the Buccaneers and how much they were paying him this season.

In the past the Ravens have steered clear of players that have a history of legal issues and in the case of Antonio Brown it would be in the best interest of the Ravens for Steve Bisciotti, Eric DeCosta, and John Harbaugh to stay far away from Antonio Brown.

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