Antonio Brown stormed off the field in the middle of a game against the New York Jets on Sunday.
After the game, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that Brown “is no longer a Buc.”
As of Tuesday, Antonio Brown still has not be waived by the Buccaneers. What gives?
Two days after his walk-off stunned the NFL world, Antonio Brown is still a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite a declaration from his coach that he was not.
As of Tuesday, Brown has still not been waived by the Buccaneers, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted on Twitter.
During Sunday’s game, Brown tore off his pads, threw his shirt and gloves into the stands, and walked off the field.
After the game, head coach Bruce Arians explained the situation in rather blunt terms.
“He is no longer a Buc,” Arians said. “That’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys that went out there and won the game.”
“He is no longer a Buc.”
While an official transaction would have to wait until Monday, it felt safe to assume that Arians’ declaration meant Brown would be off the team as soon as the rules allowed.
So what gives?
For the Buccaneers, the move might be a bit of gamesmanship. While Brown might have torpedoed his NFL career with his outburst, the league has already proven ready to give him and other players of his talent a near-endless amount of second, third, fourth, and fifth chances.
If the Buccaneers waived Brown, he could be claimed by another team. If another team felt the risk was worth the potential reward, they could put in a waiver claim for him and add him to their roster in time for the playoffs.
As Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk put it, “The Bucs could be looking for a way to not have their cake and not let anyone else eat it, keeping Brown off the roster while also not having to worry about him resurfacing with another contender.”
Alternatively, the Buccaneers could be looking to make sure that releasing Brown doesn’t come with any unintended consequences relating to Brown’s ankle injury.
According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Monday, Brown had told the Buccaneers coaches that he was too injured to play. They insisted he still go back into the game, and when he refused, said he was done with the team, effectively throwing him off the sidelines.
Arians’ telling of events was a little different. In a press conference on Monday, Arians said that Brown had never informed him that he was injured before leaving the field.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened,” Arians said. “He left the field, and that was it.”
“We had a conversation, and he left the field.”
Given the discrepancy between Rapoport’s report and Arians’ statements, the Buccaneers could be protecting themselves from any legal drama by firing an injured player.
After the Buccaneers did not waive Brown on Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote that “There are ongoing discussions with the NFL about how to move ahead in this situation.”
While vague, Schefter’s report might suggest that the team was weighing a suspension of Brown. This would allow them to keep him off their team while preventing him from heading to a potential future playoff opponent.
Given the strength of Arians’ initial statement, there is little doubt that Brown has already played his last snap with the Buccaneers.
Brown may have also played his last snap in the NFL, but we won’t know for sure until the Buccaneers decide how they want to move on from Brown and what other teams do in response should they finally cut him loose.
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