Report: Antonio Brown Not Yet Released by Buccaneers; NFL Won't Discipline WR

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Antonio Brown walks on the field before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
AP Photo/Corey Sipkin

Antonio Brown is reportedly still a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at least technically.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the defending champions "did not officially release" the wide receiver Monday and are instead holding "ongoing discussions with the NFL about how to move ahead in this situation."

However, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported "there is no consideration of league-imposed discipline" against Brown.

This comes after head coach Bruce Arians told reporters Brown "is no longer a Buc" after he left Sunday's game against the New York Jets in the third quarter.

Brown took off his jersey, pumped up the crowd and walked off the field while the game was going on, and never returned.

The saga took another turn Monday morning when NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported there was a disagreement between Brown and the coaching staff regarding whether he was healthy enough to enter the game as he recovered from an ankle injury.

"What he told the staff, from what I understand, is that he was not going into the game because, in his mind, he did not feel he was healthy," Rapoport said. "The response then from the offensive coaches and from Bruce Arians was, 'If you are not gonna go into the game when we tell you to go into the game, then you cannot be here.' At that point, they threw him off the sidelines and then cut him from the team."

However, Arians told reporters Brown never said his ankle was injured and instead "left the field" following a different conversation.

It is just the latest chapter in Brown's 2021 season that also saw him suspended three games for having a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

There is clearly plenty to sort out from Tampa Bay's perspective regarding the wide receiver's future, and Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk wrote "it's possible that the team would prefer that Brown be suspended, rather than released."

If he was released and placed on waivers, then other teams in the league would have a chance to claim him. He could also become an unrestricted free agent if nobody claims him and possibly end up on a potential playoff opponent for the Buccaneers.

As for the actual game, Tampa Bay earned a dramatic late victory with Tom Brady's touchdown pass to Cyril Grayson in the final seconds. The team improved to 12-4 and will continue battling for seeding with its Week 18 game against the Carolina Panthers.