Antonio Brown Formally Released by Bucs After Sideline Incident vs. Jets

Adam WellsJanuary 6, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) walks on the field during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Antonio Brown's tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has officially come to an end. 

The team announced on Thursday that Brown has been released "effective immediately" following his actions during their victory over the New York Jets in Week 17.

xz - Tampa Bay Buccaneers @Buccaneers

<a href="https://t.co/1hHeskBkHU">pic.twitter.com/1hHeskBkHU</a>

After Brown's release, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters Brown did not alert the team to an injury during the game, but did say the wide receiver was "very upset" at halftime about who was being targeted in the passing game. Arians said he later dismissed Brown after the wide receiver waved off an assistant and refused to go into the game.

xz - Tampa Bay Buccaneers @Buccaneers

Bruce Arians speaks to the media following the release of Antonio Brown. <a href="https://t.co/HMYir6rhX9">pic.twitter.com/HMYir6rhX9</a>

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said the team declined a request last week from Brown and his agent to guarantee the remaining $2 million in incentives on Brown's deal. 

Schefter also reported that Brown "was agitated about not getting the targets he was expecting during the game and had to be calmed down" during halftime of Sunday's game. 

Thursday's move has been expected since Brown took off his jersey and walked off the field in the third quarter of Tampa Bay's 28-24 win over the Jets. 

Arians told reporters after the game that Brown is "no longer a Buc."

In a statement released through his attorney, Brown said he "relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured" and the Buccaneers medical staff gave him a "powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it all for my team."

On Thursday, Brown tweeted a screenshot of text messages he said were between himself and Arians prior to the Jets game:

AB @AB84

Health over Wealth # Barbarian <a href="https://t.co/5pxjpZ6491">pic.twitter.com/5pxjpZ6491</a>

The Bucs noted in their statement about Brown's release that he did receive treatment on the ankle and was listed on the injury report leading up to the game, but "at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play."

Brown originally signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay in October 2020. He appeared in 11 games for the Bucs last season, including the playoffs. He caught a touchdown pass in their 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. 

The Bucs re-signed Brown to a one-year contract in April. The 33-year-old appeared in seven games this season prior to being released. He was fourth on the team in receiving yards (545) and tied for fourth in touchdown receptions (four).