Bruce Arians Says Decision on Antonio Brown's Future with Bucs 'Could Go Either Way'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 14: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians reiterated Tuesday he's yet to make a final decision about the future of wide receiver Antonio Brown, who received a three-game suspension for originally presenting the NFL with a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

Arians explained on the Dan Patrick Show (via Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times) the Bucs may announce something later this week in regards to Brown and safety Mike Edwards, who was also suspended.

"It could go either way right now; it really could," Arians said before adding there are a few factors in play. "Just continuing where those two guys are at and where the team is at."

Dan Patrick Show @dpshow

"Could go either way."<br><br> -Coach Bruce Arians discusses Antonio Brown's future with the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bucs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bucs</a><br><br>For his full appearance: <a href="https://t.co/iH24DiJ4VG">https://t.co/iH24DiJ4VG</a> <a href="https://t.co/uziHKwVYFY">pic.twitter.com/uziHKwVYFY</a>

He made similar comments both Monday and when the suspensions were first announced in early December.

ESPN's Dan Graziano reported Brown later got fully vaccinated, but his attorney, Sean Burstyn, said his client opted against challenging the NFL's ruling since he was recovering from an ankle injury when the suspension was handed down anyway.

"The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make the most of this time by treating his ankle injury," Burstyn told ESPN. "Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in Week 16."

Brown hasn't played since an Oct. 14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles because of the injury.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection won his first Super Bowl title after signing with the Bucs last October, and he was off to a strong start with 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns across five appearances this season.

Tampa Bay does enjoy ample receiver depth with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans leading a group that also features Tyler Johnson and Breshad Perriman. The team also features perhaps the NFL's best tight end trio in Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.

So if the Buccaneers' front office and coaching staff wanted to move on from Brown, they have the pass-catching talent to thrive without him.

That said, it would still qualify as a surprise if a team with a legitimate chance to win back-to-back championships released an impact player who'd be eligible to potentially join a fellow contender for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs.

Brown can return to the active roster next week ahead of a Dec. 26 game against the Carolina Panthers if he stays with Tampa.