After he agreed to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent on March 20, former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was reported to have one expectation for his new team — that they would sign wide receiver Antonio Brown. But if Brady was actually hoping for a reunion with the four-time All-Pro pass-catcher, his new head coach dashed those hopes on Thursday.
Brady and Brown were teammates on the Patriots for one game in the 2019 season, before the wideout was let go by the then-defending Super Bowl champions after facing multiple allegations of assault. Brown was not picked up by any other team, but in November in a possible bid to return to New England, he posted an apology to the Patriots on his Instagram account — a post that was quickly “liked” by Brady himself.
In their single game together, Brady targeted Brown eight times, connecting for four completions and 56 yards, including a touchdown. But Brown had twice led the NFL in receiving yards with the Pittsburgh Steelers — his previous team — and was considered one of the league’s elite wide receivers, with seven Pro Bowl selections in nine seasons, according to his career statistics compiled by Pro Football Reference.
But any hope that Brady and Brown would reconnect in Tampa Bay in the 2020 season was shot down by Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, in an interview with the syndicated Tiki and Tierney radio show on Thursday, quoted on the Boston sports site WEEI.com.
“It’s not going to happen. There’s no room, and probably not enough money,” Arians told the show. “It’s not a fit here.”
The hosts then pressed Arians on whether he would reconsider if Brown were to agree to a veteran minimum salaried contract. But the former Arizona Cardinals coach appeared to put his foot down, saying that his refusal to acquire the receiver was not simply a matter of cash.
“I just know him and it’s not a fit in our locker room,” Arians said.
Brady will nonetheless inherit a wide receiving tandem in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who picked up 1,157 yards and 1,333 yards receiving in 2019, respectively.
Of course, whether the 2020 NFL season will be played at all or shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic remains an open question. According to a Washington Post report earlier this week, NFL officials have remained “guardedly optimistic” that the 2020 season will be played in full. Teams have already called off spring training camps, which were scheduled to open in April.
While no NFL players are known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton revealed last week that he has received a positive test.