Why the Seahawks Are a Better Fit for Antonio Brown Than the RavensJune 24, 2020
Less than 18 months ago, Antonio Brown completed a season in which he led the NFL with 15 touchdown catches while earning a sixth consecutive Pro Bowl honor.
He's caught just four passes since then, he'll turn 32 in July, he might be seen as toxic by a lot of NFL teams, and he's facing a suspension if/when he returns to the league. But a resume with four first-team All-Pro nods will likely land him at least one more shot in professional football.
NFL Network's Michael Silver suggested that shot could come with either the Baltimore Ravens or Seattle Seahawks, both of whom, he says, have been "sniffing around" and held internal discussions regarding the superstar wide receiver.
Silver noted that Brown likely faces "a suspension of about half a season," but a contender like Baltimore or Seattle would indeed make sense. Brown's cousin Marquise is a second-year receiver with the Ravens, and Brown's been working out this offseason with Seahawks backup quarterback Geno Smith.
Of course, any interested teams will have to consider more than just his on-field impact.
Brown recently pleaded no-contest to felony burglary with battery and two misdemeanor charges in an altercation with a driver of a moving truck company, and he is currently under investigation by the league for allegations of sexual assault and rape as well as intimidating texts sent to a woman who said he made unwanted sexual advances toward her.
In addition to the serious allegations, this is also a guy who talked his way out of Pittsburgh, rolled through Oakland like a hurricane of tumult, flirted with retirement because he couldn't wear his favorite helmet, posted a private phone call between him and his coach online and publicly ripped the Patriots after a short, embarrassing stint there.
Why mess with him at this point? You couldn't fault the Ravens, Seahawks and everybody else for staying away, especially with a suspension reportedly looming.
But this might be a risk worth taking for the Seahawks. The Ravens? Not so much. Here's why Seattle makes more sense than Baltimore.
Baltimore is younger and more impressionable
While both the Ravens and Seahawks have respected, long-tenured head coaches, the Seahawks roster is less likely to allow Brown to make a negative, lasting impact.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and defensive stalwart Bobby Wagner are both eight-year veterans, returning edge defender Bruce Irvin was part of that same 2012 draft class, and Greg Olsen, Duane Brown and K.J. Wright are north of 30. These guys have learned to weather storms.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is magnificent, but he's still just a 23-year-old. Ditto for Marquise Brown, and they're green pretty much across the board. Mark Ingram, Earl Thomas and Calais Campbell bring a veteran presence, but there's a Baltimore-based void with Marshal Yanda and Terrell Suggs gone.
There's little doubt Brown can be disruptive, and there's more evidence the Seahawks can handle that.
Seattle needs more help
The Ravens shouldn't fiddle with the settings too much. They had the best record in the NFL last season and have the league's second-highest Super Bowl odds at Caesars Palace.
The receiving corps itself isn't necessarily better than Seattle's, but it's a run-first offense featuring Pro Bowlers at tight end and running back in Mark Andrews and Ingram, along with the rising Marquise Brown, promising playmaker Miles Boykin and steady veteran Willie Snead IV at wide receiver.
Adding Antonio Brown could obviously help immensely, but it could also backfire if he causes issues in the locker room and/or messes with a young team's chemistry.
The Seahawks have less to lose. The NFC West is objectively tougher, and they haven't won that division since 2016. The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers remain the heavy favorite to win it in 2020.
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf form a nice starting duo at wide receiver for the Seahawks, but a team that outscored its opponents by only seven points last season could use a boost in general. Seattle needs a third pass-catcher with a higher ceiling than David Moore, Phillip Dorsett or a 35-year-old Olsen.
The Seahawks make more sense from an X's and O's standpoint
While Marquise Brown and Boykin are primarily X or Z receivers in Baltimore, Lockett spends the majority of his time in the slot for the Seahawks. Antonio Brown, who has always done most of his work outside, would force the Ravens to make more dramatic changes to personnel packages, with Marquise and Boykin likely having to suddenly adapt to the slot more often following Antonio Brown's anticipated suspension.
In Seattle, it would simply be easier to slide Brown outside opposite Metcalf while continuing to utilize Lockett mainly in the slot. The only potential players who would be significantly impacted are Moore and/or Dorsett, neither of whom are expected to play major roles anyway after they were both held to fewer than 400 receiving yards in 2019 (Moore in Seattle, Dorsett with the New England Patriots).
Risk/reward is the key
Both teams—and surely many others—will perform cost-benefit analyses on Brown. Both might determine it's not worth it to go down that road. But if it comes down to Baltimore and Seattle, the latter has more reason to roll the dice from practically every standpoint.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Gagnon.