Near the beginning of the season, the New England Patriots had to reluctantly release Antonio Brown just two weeks after signing him. What if the Patriots hadn’t released Brown earlier this season?
The Patriots released Brown due to his former trainer accusing him of sexual assault. With the NFL continuing to undergo an investigation on the matter, Brown remains in free agency for any team to sign.
Despite him being available to sign, no teams have expressed any interest in adding him in 2019. But at one point, there was a chance that New England was going to hold onto Brown amid the allegations.
Of course, there’s the chance that Brown would be on the Commissioner’s Exempt List if he remained with the Patriots. But there’s also the chance that the NFL would’ve allowed him to play while the investigation ran its course.
In the one game that Brown suited up for the Patriots, he flashed his potential in Josh McDaniels’ offense. The All-Pro caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown versus the Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately, that would be the only time we would see Brown catching passes from Tom Brady. If he was still in New England, we likely wouldn’t be criticizing the Patriots’ offense (as we are right now) for lacking offensive weapons.
Regardless of Brown’s questionable character, he was still one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Above all, even at 31-years-old, Brown proved that he can create separation with ease.
Right now, New England’s offense has a shortage of pass-catchers that can create separation outside of Julian Edelman. Besides Edelman, the Patriots are relying on Phillip Dorsett, Mohamed Sanu, and rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.
As a result, Brady has completed only 51.5 percent of his attempts for 1,029 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions since Week 11. The shortage of playmakers coupled with the offensive line has caused Brady to falter in the offense.
It goes without saying that Brown would’ve never allowed these issues to arise if he was still in the offense. The troubled wide receiver always commands the focus of the defense.
Therefore, his presence alone can help the other wide receivers get open looks. In reality, the Patriots likely never surrender a second-round pick to acquire Sanu if Brown was never released.
At the same time, there’s a chance that New England is still undefeated. While it’s interesting to consider where New England would be with Brown, the All-Pro wide receiver’s exit from Foxborough was his own doing.
It remains to be seen if Brown receivers another chance to play in the NFL. But it’s unfortunate that his off-the-field issues stripped us of a chance of seeing him with Brady for an entire season.