Controversial or not, Antonio Brown has become a pivotal part of the Buccaneers, and he needs to stay in 2022.
The Buccaneers fanbase undergoes a civil war every few years based on various players. The last such schism occurred when Jameis Winston departed, and the results were so polarizing that some fans would still argue that this team would be better off with Winston rather than Tom Brady. They would be hilariously wrong, but it is still their right to be wrong.
Antonio Brown has been the most recent controversial figure in Tampa, but his only real mistake has been this season with the fake COVID-19 vaccination card. Now, the suspension is over, and the Buccaneers wasted no time in getting their star back on the field.
While on the field, Brown has been a model teammate and has become a pivotal part of the offense, and the Buccaneers should do everything in their power to keep him through the 2022 season at least.
How often do teams get a player who is still playing at a Hall of Fame level fall into their lap for pennies on the dollar? The addition of Brown to a room with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin is unfair for the rest of the NFL, and the ability of this trio to all find ways to make plays has shown us for the better part of two years that they have no issue with the current arrangement.
The Buccaneers are flat-out a better team with Brown on the field, so much so that they have a record of 10-3 in the past two years when Brown plays. The main goal of the Bucs is to win games, Brown makes that prospect better, and his chemistry with Tom Brady is undeniable.
Tampa should at least look at keeping Brown until Brady departs, which should be another year or two.
Outside of the football side of things, some fans may feel uneasy about keeping Brown after his most recent slip-up, but Bruce Arians’ actions puts this into perspective perfectly.
Arians was one of the biggest critics of Brown before he arrived with the Bucs, going as far as to say it wasn’t happening. When Brown did arrive in Tampa, Arians made it clear that any mistake would be the end of his time here. Instead of immediately cutting ties with AB after his suspension, Arians stood by his player, and that should tell you everything you need to know about the growth of their relationship.
Arians has seen a different side of AB, stood by his player, and made the right decision to keep his team in the best position possible. BA wouldn’t keep anyone on the team that was hurting the chemistry or its chances of competing for a Super Bowl, and if he believes Brown helps those chances now, there is no reason to believe that will change for 2022.
The wide receiver room simply doesn’t have the depth that we thought it would. Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, and Jaelon Darden have done little to prove that they are ready for the third role next season, and even a higher draft pick would struggle to produce at Brown’s level in year one, a time where the Bucs will still be in their Super Bowl window.
Antonio Brown gives reliability during a time where this trait is paramount, and keeping him in Tampa alongside Chris Godwin and the other key free agents will ensure that the Buccaneers remain in the best position possible to make the most of the final years of Tom Brady and Bruce Arians.
It may not be easy for some, but if you look at Brown’s entire body of work since he arrived in Tampa, there is much more to trust than there is to be weary of.
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