On the same day he was released by the Oakland Raiders, superstar receiver Antonio Brown has reportedly agreed to terms with the New England Patriots.
According to sources cited by an ESPN report, the New England Patriots have agreed to sign free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown to a one-year contract worth up to $15 million. The deal reportedly contains a $9 million signing bonus, $10 million guaranteed, and $5 million in incentives.
Brown joins a stacked receiving corps that already includes reigning Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Phillip Dorsett, and up-and-coming youngsters Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. New England’s first-round draft pick this year, N’Keal Harry, is also expected to make a return at some point after opening the season on injured reserve.
The Patriots – and more specifically, head coach Bill Belichick – will attempt to integrate Brown into a system that traditionally doesn’t allow for some of the off-the-field antics Brown has recently become known for. The former Steelers star caught flak for recording Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin’s locker room speech on Facebook Live a couple years ago, then had an even more tumultuous offseason with the Oakland Raiders after demanding a trade out from the Steel City.
Once signed with the Raiders, Brown immediately found his name in the news… and mostly for the wrong reasons. He suffered frostbite on his feet after a cryotherapy mishap in France, went to war with the NFL and NFLPA over his helmet being outdated and outlawed under rules governing player equipment, and then got into a heated dust-up with Raiders GM Mike Mayock after Oakland levied fines against him for missing required practices and team activities.
While Brown reportedly issued a public team apology to his Raiders teammates and Mayock specifically, he then issued a directive via social media on Saturday morning asking to be released. Brown was supposedly informed just prior to his public request that he’d be forced to forfeit all his guarantees with the Raiders, causing his ultimate change of heart and desire to play for another team.
Oakland was forced to cut ties with Brown and grant him his release. Hours later, news broke that he had agreed to terms with the Patriots.
This isn’t the first time that New England under Belichick has signed a player surrounded by off-season drama and intrigue. Former running back Corey Dillon, former wide receiver Randy Moss, and current wide receiver Josh Gordon are all widely considered reclamation projects by a franchise that has fairly regularly made a habit of winning with “difficult but talented” players discarded by other teams.