The New England Patriots’ decision to sign Antonio Brown has divided NFL experts. Here’s a look at what pundits, writers, and TV hosts are saying about the Patriots’ new wide receiver.
Did the Patriots need Antonio Brown?
A common theme among those writing about the Patriots signing Brown is that they didn’t even need him to begin with.
Doug Kyed of NESN.com writes, “The Patriots are bringing on even more — quite frankly, unnecessary — help when they’ll add wide receiver Antonio Brown into the mix Monday. New England’s offense already is an ice cream sundae. Brown isn’t just the cherry on top. It’s another scoop of ice cream, some more hot fudge, and the cherry.”
Brown will lead the Patriots to new heights.
This acquisition has led some analysts like ESPN’s Mike Reiss to believe this could be one of the Patriots’ best teams since 2007.
“If Brown conducts himself in accordance with all Patriot Way ordinances — and that’s a pretty damn big “if” — the Patriots will have enough firepower to mirror the juggernaut that was the 2007 team that featured Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker at the peak of their record-breaking, scoreboard-tilting powers.”
Other writers agree, including Danny Heifetz of the Ringer.
“Brown to the Pats could be 2007 Moss to the Pats all over again, but instead of pairing their new receiver with Wes Welker and Donté Stallworth like a decade ago, Brown will play alongside Josh Gordon, whose closest NFL comparison is … Randy Moss.”
The Athletics’s Jeff Howe also points out the Patriots’ track record of success with players in (somewhat) similar situations to Brown.
“Belichick has gotten the best out of some who have shot their way out of other organizations or at least appeared to be on the backside of their careers, starting with safety Rodney Harrison in 2003 and running back Corey Dillon in 2004,” Howe said. “The most famous example has been Randy Moss, who wore out his welcome with the Vikings and admitted to not caring as much during his two seasons with the Raiders.”
Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post even believes that Brown’s notorious off-field antics won’t be a problem.
“The prediction here is that Brown will be just fine with the Patriots. The idea that it’s a team made up of automatons is silly: Tom Brady and Julian Edelman maintain two of the more entertaining, and at times revealing, Instagram accounts in the league,” wrote Jenkins. “The franchise, which is known for player evaluation, has had its share of nonconformists and must have every expectation that Brown can dial back his temperament and need for attention. Yeah, so he batted over a water cooler in Pittsburgh. You’ve never seen Brady scream at a teammate or coach and hurl his helmet?”
He doesn’t deserve a second chance.
While Antonio Brown’s talent level isn’t up for debate, his off-the-field antics have been the cause of national critique. Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy expressed his disappointment with owner Robert Kraft for the signing of Brown.
“I know coaches want to win, but I’m disappointed in [Patriots owner] Robert Kraft,” Dungy said Sunday on NBC’s “Football Night in America.” “I think at some point you say, just as an organization, ‘We are not going to do this.’”
The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy also thought that Brown’s actions in Oakland didn’t deserve a reward.
“Call me old-fashioned. Call me the get-off-my-lawn-guy. Call me Curley Haired Boyfriend if you want. But I hate to see bad behavior rewarded. Even if it’s good for the Patriots. I hate to see a guy successfully shoot his way out of town (two towns in this case) and get rewarded in a better situation.”
Will Brown fit in with the team?
There’s doubt among experts, like Boston.com’s own Chad Finn, about whether Brown will even be on the team come season’s end.
“Everything Brown has done over the last 10 months or so suggests not only that football isn’t important to him,” Finn writes. “Think about it: The guy is too difficult for the Raiders, who have historically prided themselves on getting the most out of difficult players. And now he’s going to come here, and for very little money? I can’t see him doing it, and I can’t see the Patriots doing it, either.”
Seth Walder from ESPN is also skeptical, but because of his on-field performance, rather than off-field issues many of his peers focus on.
“Digging deeper into the now-31-year-old’s performance, however, reveals a worrying trend and a sign that he might be declining. The new Patriots wideout struggled against press coverage — and the rest of the NFL caught on.”
Brown will reportedly be active for Sunday’s game in Miami against the Dolphins and should begin practicing this week.