Green Bay Packers: Antonio Brown an imperfect answer to wide receiver issues

Green Bay Packers, Antonio Brown (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Antonio Brown (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Could Antonio Brown answer the Green Bay Packers’ problem at wide receiver.

The Green Bay Packers have a big issue at wide receiver. Confusingly, it was a problem that could’ve been addressed at multiple times throughout the 2020 offseason. Yet, free agency and the NFL Draft came and went and Devin Funchess was the only meaningful addition made to the position group this offseason.

Aaron Rodgers needs some help for the passing attack in Green Bay to get off the ground more consistently. Davante Adams is an elite option at the position, to be sure. However, the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown, among others, have not broken out as the Packers had hoped they would to this point.

Normally at this point of the offseason in mid-June, there aren’t many options for a team to add to help fix such a glaring weakness. In terms of wide receivers, there aren’t normally players who averaged 1,590 yards and 12 touchdowns per 16 games over the course of 16 games. Yet, Antonio Brown remains a free agent.

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Of course, the reasons why Brown is a free agent are obvious. After being traded to the Raiders from the Steelers last offseason, he never played a game in Oakland while drawing the ire of many for taking a stand over using an illegal helmet and for getting frostbite on his feet from cryotherapy treatment. He then played one game with the New England Patriots before sexual assault and rape allegations led to his release.

When you focus in solely on the field when talking about a player who could help the Green Bay Packers, Antonio Brown fits the bill. Even in his one game with the Patriots, he had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. And in his last full season, he had 104 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 scores in 2018.

In terms of what he offers as a player, there’s no escaping the fact that pairing Brown and Adams together to catch balls from Rodgers would be a nightmare for opposing secondaries. However, there are mitigating factors that hinder a potential pairing between Green Bay and the mercurial wide receiver.

Antonio Brown an imperfect solution for the Green Bay Packers

As recently noted by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, even if Brown signed with an NFL team such as the Packers, it’s almost assured that he won’t just stroll in and start come Week 1. He recently pled no contest to two felony charges stemming from a battery incident in Florida and, while he avoided jail time, a suspension could still be handed down by the league.

On a similar note, there could also be a suspension coming from the league as a result of the aforementioned sexual assault allegations against Brown. The NFL is conducting its own investigation in the matter, which has not yet been resolved. And on top of all of that, Brown still has to be reinstated by the NFL as well.

It’s been said many times that “the best ability is availability” and the availability of Brown in the 2020 season is very much in question. He’s going to be suspended upon his reinstatement; the length of it is what we don’t yet know. Thus, if the Packers were to sign him, they wouldn’t be getting a full-season of an impact wide receiver. Nevermind the inherent risk of signing a player with Brown’s recent off-field history.

Despite all of that, he would still be an answer. The wide receiver issue in Green Bay isn’t a new development as they dealt with it last year as well — and the Packers went 13-3 while winning the NFC North. They have proven that, with an improved run game and defense, they can still win with what they have.

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Subsequently, it may well be worth it for the Packers to sign Antonio Brown despite how imperfect of a solution he would be. Yes, he’s not going to be there for 16 games if they sign him. But when they reach the home stretch of the regular season and presumably the playoffs, they’ll give the passing game the boost it needs if Brown is even close to the player he was with Pittsburgh in 2018.