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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.
Since then, he has caught just four passes, will turn 32 in July, many NFL teams might see him as toxic, and he faces a suspension if he returns to the league. But a resume with four first-team All-Pro nods will probably give you at least one more chance in professional football.
NFL Network’s Michael Silver suggested the shot could come with the Baltimore Ravens or Seattle Seahawks, who he says have been “snooping” and had internal discussions about the superstar catcher.
Silver noted that Brown likely faces “a suspension of about half a season,” but a contender like Baltimore or Seattle would make sense. Brown’s cousin Marquise is a sophomore catcher with the Ravens, and Brown has been working this offseason with Seahawks quarterback substitute Geno Smith.
Of course, any interested team will have to consider more than its impact on the field.
Brown recently declared not to be involved in a battery theft crime and two misdemeanor charges in an altercation with a driver of a Moving truck company, and is currently being investigated by the league for allegations of sexual assault and rape, as well as intimidating text messages sent to a woman who said she made unwanted sexual advances towards her.
In addition to the serious allegations, this is also a guy who left Pittsburgh, rolled through Oakland like a melee hurricane, flirted with retirement because he couldn’t wear his favorite helmet, posted a private phone call between him and his online coach, and he publicly trashed the Patriots after a brief and embarrassing season there.
Why mess with him at this point? The Ravens, Seahawks, and everyone else cannot be blamed for staying away, especially with a suspension reportedly looming.
But this could Be a risk worth taking for the Seahawks. The crows? Not that much. Here’s why Seattle makes more sense than Baltimore.
Baltimore is younger and more impressionable
While both the Ravens and the Seahawks have respected long-running coaches, the Seahawks roster is less likely to allow Brown to have a negative and lasting impact.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and staunch defensive back Bobby Wagner are eight-year veterans, forward defender Bruce Irvin was part of the same class in the 2012 draft, and Greg Olsen, Duane Brown and KJ Wright are north of 30. These boys have learned to weather storms. .
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Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is magnificent, but he’s still only 23 years old. The same goes for Marquise Brown, and they are green in general. Mark Ingram, Earl Thomas and Calais Campbell bring a veteran presence, but there is a gap in Baltimore with quarterback Yanda and Terrell Suggs missing.
There is little doubt that Brown can be damaging, and there is more evidence that the Seahawks can handle that.
Seattle needs more help
The Ravens shouldn’t mess around too much with setup. They had the best NFL record last season and have the second highest odds in the league in the Super Bowl at Caesars Palace.
The receiving body itself isn’t necessarily better than Seattle’s, but it’s an offense for the first time with Pro Bowlers in tight end and running at Mark Andrews and Ingram, along with fledgling Marquise Brown, promising game creator Miles Boykin and longtime veteran Willie Snead IV on wide receiver.
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Adding Antonio Brown could obviously help immensely, but could also backfire if he causes problems in the locker room and / or messes with the chemistry of a young team.
The Seahawks have less to lose. The NFC West is objectively tougher, and they haven’t won that division since 2016. NFC defending champion San Francisco 49ers remains the top seed to win it in 2020.
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf make a good starting duo as a wide receiver for the Seahawks, but a team that outscored its opponents by just seven points last season could use a boost overall. Seattle needs a third receiver with a higher ceiling than David Moore, Phillip Dorsett or a 35-year-old Olsen.
The Seahawks make more sense from the X and O point of view
While Marquise Brown and Boykin are primarily X or Z receivers in Baltimore, Lockett spends most of his time in the slot for the Seahawks. Antonio Brown, who has always done most of his work outdoors, would force the Ravens to make more dramatic changes to the staffing packages, and Marquise and Boykin would likely have to suddenly adapt to the more-followed job after the early suspension. by Antonio Brown.
In Seattle, it would simply be easier to slide Brown out in front of Metcalf while continuing to use Lockett primarily in the slot. The only potential players who would be significantly affected are Moore and / or Dorsett, neither of whom are expected to play a major role anyway after they both had less 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 conduct cost-benefit analyzes at Brown. Both could determine that it is not worth following that path. But if it’s Baltimore and Seattle, the latter has more reason to roll the dice from virtually every point of view.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for the Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Gagnon.