In a few short weeks, Antonio Brown could be back in the NFL


Antonio Brown hasn't tweeted in nearly a month, but don't assume that isn't coordinated silence on the part of agent Ed Wasielewski and the four-time All-Pro.

There haven't been any tweets about how Brown perceives the NFL to have treated him unfairly, perhaps because he believes that within the next month, he'll once again be employed by one of its clubs.

In late July, the NFL suspended Brown for the first eight games of the 2020 season "for multiple violations of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy." Brown was accused of sending intimidating texts to a woman that accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct in a story published by Sports Illustrated. Additionally, Brown was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service after pleading no contest to charges of felony burglary with battery and two misdemeanors pertaining to a dispute he had with a moving truck driver. Hence the "multiple violations" verbiage in the punishment.

All that said, minutes after news of the suspension reached the public, Brown's agent was quick to change the framing of the discussion.

"The NFL has reached its decision to suspend my client Antonio Brown for eight games. Antonio accepts this decision and will not appeal. He is excited to resume his outstanding football career and is looking forward to playing in the 2020 season," Wasielewski tweeted on July 31.

It's been over 13 months since Brown played in his lone game as a member of the New England Patriots, so there's a very real possibility the 32-year-old will have to shake off some rust upon joining a new team. But given that Brown has over 11,000 career receiving yards, it stands to reason that a contender may be willing to deal with that if they believe he could really make in impact in December and beyond.

What team would sign Brown? Seemingly it won't be the 5-1 Chicago Bears. In a FaceTime call with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders that he may not have known was being recorded, Brown took a jab at quarterback Nick Foles:

Truth be told, the Bears probably don't have the established culture to convince themselves they can handle Brown, who has proven capable of running roughshod through multiple organizations.

Brown's cousin - Maquise "Hollywood" Brown - is the Baltimore Ravens' No. 1 wide receiver and the duo worked out with reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson in the offseason. Shortly before Brown was suspended, Jackson expressed support for the idea of signing the seven-time Pro Bowler. Instead, the Ravens worked out Dez Bryant, perhaps a sign the organization wasn't as keen as taking a chance on Brown.

That said, an inability to play from behind in the 34-20 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 may have emphasized the need for a game-breaking wide receiver. Whether Brown could still provide that presence at this stage of his career is unclear, but the Ravens do appear to be a piece away.

The New Orleans Saints worked out Brown last December, but Brown later called it a "publicity stunt." The Saints also didn't employ Emmanuel Sanders at that time. This does appear to be the final chance to win a second title with Drew Brees, but as the team seemingly attempt to keep Michael Thomas in line, now may not be the time to bring Brown in.

Russell Wilson worked out with Brown last offseason, and has reportedly pushed for Brown to be brought into Seattle. That said, the Seahawks are 5-0, in large part because D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are one of the best one-two punches in the NFL. If the Seahawks make an impact addition, it probably needs to be on defense.

The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-4-1, but very much in the race in the NFC East. Their next two matchups are against the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps they'll simply hope on a bump from Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, but Brown has played about as much as both of those two over the last year. If the Eagles win two games in a row, would they take a flier on Brown and hope that he, breakout-star Travis Fulgham and first-round pick Jalen Reagor could create a strong trio for Carson Wentz to throw to? Maybe.

Less likely is that Brown returns to New England, where he did catch eight passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in a win last season before his eventual release. His biggest advocate in Foxborough was Tom Brady, who, of course, is now in Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians poured cold water on the idea of Brown coming to Tampa Bay shortly after Brady signed, and with a wide receiving corps that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller, the Buccaneers don't really need help at that position. Don't expect a return to Pittsburgh, either, given the terms he left there on and that Chase Claypool has emerged as a star in recent weeks.

It still remains possible that Brown goes unsigned even once he's free to play. He still has a pending court case where he's accused of sexual assault of his former trainer, Britney Taylor. Brown has countersued Taylor for defamation, among other things, but that's an extremely serious charge that still hangs over Brown and could end with him on the commissioner's exempt list if he's signed. Morally, it would make sense for teams to wait until this is resolved before seriously considering signing Brown.

Even when excluding Brown's remaining legal issues, he's a polarizing individual with the potential to alter locker room chemistry in a way that derails a promising season. The flip side of that, though, is Brown is one of the greatest wide receivers in the NFL history, and if you could manage him for half a season, you could end up with a Lombardi Trophy.

So there's not a prediction here on whether Brown ultimately will sign with anyone in the coming weeks. Either way, though, you'll hear quite a bit about the possibility.

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