The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dealing with an unnecessary distraction late in the 2021 NFL season. Antonio Brown has been suspended for three games following the revelation that he initially submitted a fake vaccination card at the start of the season. Brown is now vaccinated, but is being punished for his initial actions.
Such a serious matter could lead to fans wondering if the Buccaneers would want to release Brown and move on from him for good. So will this happen?
Will the Buccaneers release Antonio Brown?
The Buccaneers releasing Brown is unlikely to happen and would be a total shock. Let's start with the issue at hand. Brown submitted a fake vaccination card, but has since been vaccinated against COVID-19. He avoided a situation where he could have been going around putting his teammates at risk.
He is now giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary during his suspension, so the team is off the hook in terms of money there. Releasing him as a punishment would not make much sense given he won't be getting paid anyway.
Brown has always been supported by Tom Brady and the quarterback is the reason the receiver is in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers would not want to anger Brady by making this move.
Then there is the fact Brown has been a solid contributor when healthy. He has 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games this season and is a nice added bonus in the receiving corps behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Releasing him takes a playmaker off the roster for the sole reason of trying to punish him even further.
The Buccaneers enter Week 13 with an 8-3 record. That is good enough for a three-game lead over the Atlanta Falcons before the two teams meet up this weekend. If Brown was the number one receiver and caused this distraction, there would be a bigger reason for frustration.
But he is a veteran with a long list of off-the-field issues, including some that were very serious in nature. These issues are part of the risk of having Brown around, and a three-game suspension seems like a fair punishment for the crime. He is losing money and that alone is a tough blow.
Brown is also dealing with an ankle injury at the moment. He was already ruled out for two more games even before the three-game suspension came to be. So it's not like he was in the gameplan this week anyway.
The Buccaneers are a stable team, with Brady leading the way. They returned all their starters from last year's Super Bowl team and consistency is key in Tampa Bay. Releasing Brown now and leaving a hole at receiver, given he can get back and get healthy, would not be a wise move. The team is operating differently with Brady around and that may end up working in their favor.