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Still no sign Antonio Brown will be part of Bucs’ 2021 progression

At this point, no deal between the Bucs and the 32-year-old all-pro receiver appears imminent.
Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown, who signed with the team last November, had one of his two playoff touchdowns against the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.
Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown, who signed with the team last November, had one of his two playoff touchdowns against the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Apr. 6
Updated Apr. 6

Three weeks into the NFL’s free agency phase, nearly all of Tom Brady’s check downs are in place for 2021.

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the flanks? Check. Rob Gronkowski on a drag? Check. Lombardi Lenny springing to the flat as a safety valve? Check.

Meantime, Antonio Brown stands isolated in a figurative seam, his arms flailing, anxious to have something tossed his way.

This is what limbo looks like.

As of Tuesday morning, nothing new had transpired regarding the Bucs and Brown, the team’s only prominent free agent who remains unsigned. Late last week, coach Bruce Arians told WDAE 620-AM the chances of Brown returning in 2021 are “okay,” and history shows that talks can turn on a dime in the NFL’s bizarre alternate universe. But for now, there are no signs of an imminent deal.

Nor is there any indication Brown will get a significant salary hike if he does re-sign.

Related: Tom Brady hopped over to Disney World on Easter weekend

The latest information from the NFL Players Association indicates the Bucs possess $5.076 million in cap room with 59 players under contract. Consider that roughly half that cap room will be needed to sign draftees, and the leftovers don’t exactly represent a bonanza for Brown, who had 20 of his 45 regular-season catches — and all four of his touchdowns — in the last three weeks of the 2020 season.

That late surge represented a career resuscitation for Brown, who led all NFL receivers in baggage (including an eight-game NFL suspension for violating its personal-conduct policy) when he signed an incentive-stacked, one-year, $1 million deal with Tampa Bay last November.

Now it is believed he’s seeking something closer to market value. By all indications, Brown has remained a model citizen and teammate during his five months in the bay area, but he still faces a civil lawsuit in south Florida over allegations of sexual assault. Moreover, he turns 33 in July.

His other options seem sketchy. Reports recently surfaced indicating Russell Wilson would be interested in bringing Brown aboard as another weapon in the Seahawks offense. Additionally, if teams itching for a receiver don’t get what they’re seeking in the upcoming draft, a market could be created for Brown.

Meantime, any play for Brown in the bay area is taking a long time to develop.

Perhaps too long.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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