The ongoing dilemma of free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown has taken a new twist. Brown worked out for the Saints last year but was ultimately not added.
The NFL announced Friday that Brown, who has been investigated after multiple allegations of crimes like sexual assault and battery, will be suspended for the first half of the upcoming season. This shouldn’t come as a shocker for Saints’ fans.
Brown violated the league’s personal conduct policy, and will not be suiting up for an NFL team for at least the first eight games of 2020.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said Brown’s eight-game suspension will commence in Week 1, even if he is not signed by a team during the first half of the football season.
However, Pelissero said that punishment could extend itself depending on the results from Brown’s civil suit in Florida.
In an official letter from the league office, NFL Special Counsel for Conduct Todd Jones said Brown is eligible to play in 2020 and could be involved in a team’s preseason drills but cannot see the field until his team’s ninth game of the year.
For the New Orleans Saints, the organization knows that this season is practically the team’s final shot at a Super Bowl. Quarterback Drew Brees may have signed a two-year, $50 million contract in the offseason, but 2020 could be his final year.
New Orleans is all-in on equipping the ballclub for a championship run, like signing a familiar face in safety Malcolm Jenkins.
It also added a key piece like wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and extended contracts of players like cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle David Onyemata to stack the club’s talent in its favor.
Even though the team had experimented with the idea of signing Brown late in the 2019 season, it backfired as Brown thought it was a “publicity stunt,” and that the Saints were never going to sign him.
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Well, anything is possible in the NFL, even the thought of the Saints trying to acquire free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney had driven potential suitors away because of his contract demands of around $17 million per year, but recently had considered signing with the Saints on a cheaper, “prove-it” deal to try and win a ring and improve his free-agency stock for 2021.
It would be a long shot for New Orleans to sign Clowney, Brown or both for a few reasons.
One, it would be difficult for those players to fit under the Saints’ current salary cap space of $8.7 million, according to Over the Cap.
For a player like Brown, if the Saints wanted him for the final part of the season, he would have to sign a contract similar to what wide receiver Dez Bryant signed in 2018, of less than $2 million.
Clowney, on the other hand, would have to work with New Orleans to compromise and trade a lucrative contract for the chance at a Super Bowl, all while fitting under the team’s salary cap.
With Brown, another issue that would arise is his relationship with former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Emmanuel Sanders.
The wide receivers clashed at each other in January 2019, before Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders, on Twitter about their time together with the Steelers. The story can be seen here.
In an ideal world, the Saints would find a way to have both of these possible free-agent acquisitions help put them on top of the football world in Super Bowl LV.
But realistically, Brown finds himself in a difficult, but not impossible, position to return to the game.
Time will tell what general manager Mickey Loomis has up his sleeves for 2020.