Antonio Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in his lone game as Tom Brady’s teammate in New England. Photo by @AroundTheNFL (Twitter).
- Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl odds have been shortened to +1000 following the signing of Antonio Brown
- AB will join Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to form arguably the league’s best receiving corps
- Are the Bucs worth betting to win it all at their new price?
Antonio Brown is back. The troubled wide receiver is the newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reuniting with Tom Brady. The duo spent a small portion of the 2019 season together, but apparently that was enough for Brady to make a strong push to the Bucs to sign AB.
Breaking: Antonio Brown is joining Tom Brady in Tampa Bay as the WR has reached a 1-year deal with the Buccaneers.
(via @AdamSchefter) pic.twitter.com/zhXov8iTbO
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 23, 2020
Brown’s arrival not only bolsters Tampa Bay’s wide receiver corps, but their championship prospects as well according to online sportsbooks.
Super Bowl 55 Odds
|Team||Odds to Win|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+400|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+1000|
|Green Bay Packers||+1100|
|New Orleans Saints||+1400|
|Los Angeles Rams||+2200|
Odds taken Oct. 23rd at DraftKings.
Prior to the news, the Bucs’ Super Bowl odds were +1300, but that number is ancient history. Tampa Bay is now +1000 to win it all, trailing only Seattle, Baltimore and Kansas City.
2020 NFL MVP Odds Tracker
The Bucs are All-In
Brown is the latest former star to land in the Sunshine state, joining Brady, Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette. There was heavy interest around the league in acquiring his services, as the Seahawks, Ravens and Packers were among the teams with better odds than the Buccaneers to sign him.
*Antonio Brown and the Buccaneers are working towards an agreement* pic.twitter.com/NSR400o8jM
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) October 23, 2020
The Bucs are clearly in win now mode with so many high profile veterans on the roster, and are reportedly being dubbed a “one-year team” by other executives around the league.
Perhaps that’s just sour grapes, but regardless Brady now has arguably the NFC’s best set of receiving weapons at his disposal. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are alpha wideouts, and Rob Gronkowski proved in last week’s blowout victory over Green Bay that he still has something left in the tank.
Rob Gronkowski gets his first TD as a Buccaneer. Just like old times for Brady and Gronk.pic.twitter.com/hY2VyAVa22
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 18, 2020
Now they add Brown into the mix, who since entering the league in 2010 is Pro Football Focus’ second highest graded wide receiver. You can’t double-team everyone, meaning Brady is going to be picking defenses apart moving forward.
Brady’s Infatuation With Brown
Brady and Brown may have only played one game together, but their practice sessions in New England were reportedly legendary.
Brady has been infatuated with Brown in part because of how dominant the WR was in Patriots practice. Prior to the Miami game, AB and Brady connected so many times in practice, I was told that coaches asked Brady to stop throwing to him deep. https://t.co/I9UyBgXJnj
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) October 23, 2020
They were certainly on the same page in their lone outing together in Miami, as Brady targetted AB on eight of the 14 routes he ran (57%), connecting for 56 yards and a touchdown.
The last time Antonio Brown was on a football field, he caught this TD pass from Tom Brady 👀 pic.twitter.com/svngQ2l4FQ
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) October 23, 2020
Brown hasn’t played since that Week 2 game last season, but one look at his social media channels and it’s clear he’s still in pristine shape. He must first pass his COVID-19 protocol tests, but assuming no hiccups he’ll be eligible to join the Bucs once his 8-game suspension is up in Week 9.
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?
Brown brings a litany of off-field issues with him to Tampa Bay. He’s had countless run-ins with the teammates and the law, and has been accused of committing some absolutely vile acts.
Obviously the NFL has determined he’s paid for his wrong doings, but you have to wonder if everyone in the Bucs organization is on board with the decision. Check out this quote from head coach Bruce Arians, who was with AB in Pittsburgh for two seasons.
Bruce Arians in March 2020 on Antonio Brown coming to Tampa:
“Yeah, it’s not gonna happen. There’s no room. And probably not enough money. But it’s not gonna happen — it’s not a fit here.
I just know him, and — it’s not a fit in our locker room.
He’s too much of a diva.” https://t.co/NOZ8sH8GjT
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 23, 2020
Clearly, Arians didn’t want Brown at the time, but maybe his mind has changed after seeing how close this Buccaneers team is to being elite. Regardless, you have to assume AB will be on his best behaviour knowing this is likely his final opportunity to prolong his NFL career.
Buy the Bucs Because of their Defense, Not AB
Tampa Bay was already the number one team by DVOA prior to the Brown signing. Yes, he upgrades the offense, but Brady’s unit was already averaging 29.2 points per game without him.
How the Bucs’ go-to offensive skills group could look:
QB: Tom Brady
RB: Ronald Jones
WR: Mike Evans
WR: Chris Godwin
WR: Antonio Brown
TE: Rob Gronkowski
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 23, 2020
The real reason to be bullish on the Bucs is their defense. According to PFF, they boast the league’s top coverage unit, the third best pass rush, and a top-12 run defense. The Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos are the only other teams to rank that high in those three categories, but their respective offenses pail in comparison to Tampa Bay’s, with or without Brown.
The Bucs put the entire league on notice in Week 6, manhandling the previously undefeated Packers. They held the league’s highest scoring team to 10 points, and the league’s top graded passer to 160 yards.
Tampa Bay came to play 😤
The @Buccaneers pick up a huge win over the Packers. pic.twitter.com/vi86xxN1JC
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) October 18, 2020
That’s the kind of effort it will take to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs, and that’s why Tampa Bay still offers value at +1000.
Chris began his career at Hockey Night in Canada over 15 years ago. He has since worked at TSN for over 12 years as a writer, line-up producer, field producer, newsroom supervisor for Sportscentre, and presently as a promotions producer.