From the moment he demanded and was eventually granted his release by the Oakland Raiders, the entire Twitterverse joked that Antonio Brown was destined to join the New England Patriots. As it turns out, those jokes will, indeed, become a reality, as multiple media reports indicate that Brown is headed to the reigning Super Bowl champions.
The free agent bombshell was first reported by Master Tesfatsion of Bleacher Report, and soon after, confirmation came in from Adam Schefter of ESPN and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Antonio Brown is close to signing a deal with the New England Patriots, per sources.
— Master (@MasterTes) September 7, 2019
Antonio Brown has agreed to terms with the Patriots, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2019
Rapoport brings word that Brown will get a one-year deal with New England, one that has the potential to pay him up to $15 million.
Antonio Brown agrees to a 1 year deal worth up $15mil with the #Patriots. $9mil signing bonus. Wow.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2019
Eventually, Brown confirmed the move with a post on his Instagram page.
Brown will not, however, be able to suit up in New England’s season opener on Sunday night against his old team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Mike Florio.
Antonio Brown will not be able to face the Steelers tomorrow night. As explained earlier, there are no NFL transactions on Sundays. He can’t officially be signed by the Patriots until Monday.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 7, 2019
The Raiders acquired Brown from the Steelers for a pair of draft picks earlier this offseason, but his time in Oakland was rather tumultuous. He suffered frostbite in his feet due to an unfortunate trip to a cryotherapy tank, then went through a lengthy battle with the NFL regarding what helmet he’s allowed to wear by their safety standards.
Once that all resolved itself, things really turned up to 11. The Raiders fined Brown for missing time, which did not sit well with the All-Pro receiver, who got into it with general manager Mike Mayock. It looked like that situation resolved itself and Brown was going to avoid a suspension, but the team was insistent on fining him. Brown released a phone call with Jon Gruden on his Instagram account, and on Saturday morning, he demanded the Raiders release him, as his fine meant the team was able to void the nearly $30 million to which he was contractually guaranteed.
It goes without saying, but the Patriots getting Brown has the potential to be horrifying for the rest of the league. While his breakup with the Raiders was rather acrimonious, Brown gives New England an absolutely horrifying receiving corps alongside Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, and Demaryius Thomas. Add in that New England was one of the better rushing teams in the league last year and Tom Brady is ageless, and suddenly, the Patriots have the kind of firepower that can go toe-to-toe with the best offenses in the league.