TAMPA, Fla. — In a move that will shock no one, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially released wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The wide receiver hasn't been with the team since he took off his jersey and pads and left the field during last Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Head coach Bruce Arians said after the game that Brown was no longer a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Since then, Brown has claimed he had an ankle injury.
"I didn't quit, I was cut. I didn't walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out," Brown said. "Being fired on the sideline for having a painful injury was bad enough."
The Bucs addressed Brown's claim saying he had been cleared by the team's medical personnel to play against the Jets. Brown also showed no signs of ankle problems during the first half of the Jets game. He finished the game with three catches for 26 yards.
"At no point in time during that game did he ever ask a trainer or a doctor about his ankle," Arians said after Thursday's practice. "You can’t force a player to play. They have that choice. It’s their body, and he decided to play." Arians said Brown and receiver Mike Evans were both on "pitch counts," meaning there was a specific number of snaps both players would be allowed to play.
Earlier on Thursday, Brown Tweeted that the Bucs "mishandled the situation" and said they let him and his teammates down.
Don’t get it twisted. My brothers have been good to me. From Tom to practice squad, we were a top-level unit. They have been good to me and knew nothing about my talks with coach last week. The team mishandled this situation. They let me down and, more importantly, my teammates.— AB (@AB84) January 6, 2022
The plot got deeper Thursday when ESPN's Adam Schefter said Brown and his agent requested the team guarantee the remaining $2 million in incentives on his contract. The Bucs, Schefter reported declined.
Schefter said Brown didn't inform the Bucs' medical staff about his ankle bothering him on game day or during the Jets game. Schefter said Bucs GM Jason Licht told him the team offered "reasonable accommodations" and that Brown refuse to send medical information to the team and did not return calls.
Last week, Antonio Brown and his agent requested that the remaining $2 million in incentives in his contract for this season be guaranteed, per Bucs’ GM Jason Licht. The team declined to guarantee those incentives.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2022
According to Spotrac.com, Brown ends up making $3.28 million from the Buccaneers for his work this season. If Brown is claimed off waivers by another team, that team will take on $50,925 of base salary and $52,941 in active roster bonus from his salary.
The Bucs (12-4) finish the regular season Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers (5-11). Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25.