Antonio Brown is set to make his season debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints. If it seems like you haven’t seen the All-Pro wide receiver on the field for a while, it’s because that’s true.
The Pittsburgh Steelers traded Brown in March of last year, and he’s only played in one NFL game since then. So, when was the last time Brown played a snap as a pro, and how will he perform Sunday night after his lengthy hiatus?
Antonio Brown was a Pro Bowler just two years ago
Brown hasn’t been a factor in the NFL in nearly two years, but he was one of the best wide receivers in the league the last time we saw him play a full season.
In 2018 with the Steelers, Brown recorded 1,297 receiving yards and a league-high 15 receiving touchdowns. He also had 104 catches during the season, which marked his sixth straight year with at least 100 grabs.
Brown also made the Pro Bowl in 2018 for the sixth season in a row. He was still one of the most consistent and dominant offensive weapons in the NFL at age 30, but the Steelers had enough of his off-the-field antics by the end of the season. Pittsburgh traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders in March of 2019 for a third- and a fifth-round draft pick.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was excited to finally have an offensive playmaker on the roster, but the Raiders cut ties with Brown before the 2019 season even started.
Brown played one game with the Patriots last season
After the Raiders released Brown in September, the Patriots swooped in and grabbed the newest free agent. Tom Brady was always a big fan of Brown’s game, and he was a big part of the decision to bring in the troubled WR.
New England got Brown activated for its Week 2 game against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 15, and he looked exactly like his old self. Brown reeled in four of his eight targets for 56 yards and a touchdown in the game.
It’s been 419 days since Brown’s lone appearance with the Patriots. He hasn’t seen the field in the NFL in over 13 months, but that’s about to change Sunday night.
How will Brown fare in his Buccaneers debut?
Brown may not have played an NFL game in over a year, but there’s no doubt he still has the talent to dominate this league. He’ll have the chance to prove it Sunday night when his new team, the Buccaneers, face off against the Saints in Tampa.
The Buccaneers have stressed that they intend to involve Brown early and often in his 2020 debut. He’s reportedly looked great in workouts for the team, and Tom Brady could rely on him heavily to outscore the Saints on Sunday night.
This should be fun.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference