Recently Chris Long of Bleacher Report wrote an article titled “The Worst Decisions Since the End of the 2021 NFL Draft”. In it he describes five decisions across the NFL that have or could have negative effects. The first one he touches on is the Buccaneers re-signing of Antonio Brown.
Essentially it boils down to the future. Antonio Brown’s presence on the roster takes snaps away from young players. Players who need reps to get better. Scotty Miller, fifth-round selection Tyler Johnson, and fourth-round selection Jaelon Darden.
Old Salty Buc’s Take: Post Season/Draft
When the 2020 season ended the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a lot of free agents. Key players who contributed to the success of the team. Big-name individuals who could cost the team large sums of money. I, much like a lot of the fan base, thought they all could not come back. Right?
As I looked at the roster after the draft, I started to prioritize who, If I was the general manager, I would re-sign. Brown was far down on that list. The last resort if Chris Godwin was unable to be retained. When Godwin was franchise tagged, for me, Brown fell even farther down in importance.
Stretch the Field With Speed
Scotty “Scooter” Miller is an x-factor that causes defenses to pause. Drafted in 2019 Miller possesses the speed to stretch a defense. As evident by his last-second touchdown against the Packers before the half he can be a game-changer. It could be nice to see how much more impact he could have with more snaps.
In the third year of his contract, Miller finds himself a free agent after next season.
Future and Growth: Tyler Johnson
After analyzing the wide receiver position, I felt comfortable without Brown. Tyler Johnson showed playmaking flashes that reminded me of Godwin in his first season. Subsequently, he looks like a good candidate for a second wide receiver. With Godwin and Mike Evans in place, he is well suited as a third. In the 2020 season, he posted two touchdowns on twelve receptions. Nine of the other receptions went for first downs. Needless to say, it looks as though he has a bright future.
After this season he’ll have two more years under contract.
New Talent: Jaelon Darden
Darden’s draft profile reads like an elusive speed receiver. He has burst in a short space and quickly changes direction. He can be another wide receiver that allows for this offense to find new ways to attack down the field or across the middle. He’s dangerous. Consequently, we may not be able to get much of that this season. As it sits, with Brown on the roster, he’s wide receiver number six.
Brown being on the roster is great for winning this season. He’s still an impactful player who, when coupled with Godwin and Evans, will make defensive game planning difficult. For 2021 he is a weapon that pushes this offense over the top. Especially since he will have the familiarity that he didn’t have to start last season.
For the future though, I agree with Chris Long. Johnson needs to have more time on the field. The time that Brown will take the most of. Miller and Darden now fight for additional plays when the offense needs to get creative. Hopefully, they take the next step even with Brown on the team.
Lastly, digging through the talents of these receivers an interesting outlook arises. Next season, I doubt Godwin goes anywhere. Brown will likely depart, and Johnson will take his place. Darden may be the heir to Miller’s spot if he’ can’t be retained. There is a clear set up that keeps the same “style” of wide receivers in place to continue a Bruce Arians offense going.