Antonio Brown may be gone, but impact could last

Ryan Hannable
September 26, 2019 - 7:25 am

Yes, the Antonio Brown story has run its course, but we have one last thing to get off our chest.

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Brown’s 11 days on the Patriots roster could have lasting impacts both on and off the field.

On the field, the Patriots counting on him negatively impacted their wide receiver depth. 

Following Brown being released last week, the Patriots have a depth chart at the position of Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, along with N”Keal Harry on injured reserve and Cam Meredith on PUP.

If Brown was never brought in, it’s very likely Demaryius Thomas would still be around, as he was dealt to the Jets for a 2021 sixth-round pick a day after Brown officially was signed. It’s hard to believe if Brown wasn’t in the picture the Patriots would have traded him to New York.

The deal was likely done as a courtesy to Thomas because he wouldn’t have received much playing time because of the addition of Brown. The veteran wide out was impressive in the preseason finale, showing he had recovered from his torn Achilles, finishing with seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown and certainly seemed like a player the team could benefit from.

If any of the wide receivers are to go down for any extended period of time the rest of the year, wouldn’t a player like Thomas be nice to slide in?

Not only on the field, but Thomas' veteran presence and leadership could have been beneficial to have around for rookie receivers Harry, Meyers and Olszewski. 

Brown’s true lasting impact could come off the field, though.

The troubled wide receiver’s contract included a $9 million signing bonus, and while the Patriots didn’t pay him the first installment that was due Monday, it seems very likely Brown will file a grievance against them to get money.

Despite what has transpired, there are many connected people who believe the Patriots will have a tough time keeping that signing bonus money away from Brown. Right now, the team has roughly $2 million in cap space that they may not be able to get back. Come the trade deadline, some of that money might be a good thing to have.

While the Patriots could always manipulate some current deals to make cap space, without Brown coming aboard they wouldn’t need to do that and it might not even be enough to equal all of what was given to him and thus not available to the team.

The Patriots are always active at the deadline, but maybe because of a lack of cap space they can’t be as much as they usually are. Also, just having to pay Brown any large sum of money isn’t the best of looks given everything that has come to light in the last several weeks.

It’s also worth looking into how the Brown acquisition played out and how it potentially could impact some relationships within the organization.

The day after the signing was reported, the Patriots hosted the Steelers on Sunday Night Football in Week 1 and Al Michaels went on NBC and repeated a conversation between Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft, which the owner apparently relayed.

The quarterback apparently told Kraft he was was “a million percent” in on the signing. This didn’t appear to go over well with Brady.

“That was a private conversation that I wish had remained private," he said Monday night on Westwood One Radio with Jim Gray, and it wasn’t the first time the quarterback has said that since the comments were made.

Clearly, this is something that bothered him, and based on his social media activity (liking and commenting Brown’s Instagram posts) as well as the few comments he’s made on the matter, Brady appears to be against the ultimate decision to move on from Brown.

Brady was given a chance to dispute this and say he was not against Kraft's decision, like some have said, in the same interview with Gray, and instead he chose to dance around the subject.

“I think there’s always reports and speculation about a lot of things that I have said, or have not said, or been a part of," Brady said. "The reality is I don’t make any personnel decisions. I don’t decide to sign players. I don’t decide to trade them. I don’t decide to release them. I don’t decide to draft them. I don’t get asked. I show up and I do my job. I am an employee like everyone else. I am going to show up this week and do the best I can do as quarterback.”

Because of the impacts that came from bringing Brown in, the relationship between Kraft and Brady has the potential to be impaired. When has Brady publicly said anything negative about Kraft like he has in recent weeks?

While certainly 20 years of a great relationship shouldn’t be broken by one potential disagreement, it is worth noting Brady is in a contract year and it is far from certain he plays in New England, if he plays at all, next year.

Acknowledging it is a big leap to make, it is worth noting this isn’t the best year for Brady and the owner not to be on the same page. Brady has the ability to play for any team in the league next season and it is really hard just to assume he will be back with the Patriots next season because he's played in New England his whole career. Other teams will certainly want his services and have money to spend, too.

Given Brown’s talent, it’s certainly understandable why the Patriots brought him in and gave him a chance. But now that he’s gone, his impact could still show up and it’s not in the best of ways.

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