Controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown is making headlines around the NFL again. The former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro was last seen on a football field running shirtless through the back of the New York Jets end zone prior to being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brown did not stay quiet after his split with the Buccaneers and is continuing to speak out with a purpose. Brown was featured on the January 24th edition of the I Am Athlete podcast and already has his sights on playing again in the NFL. In fact, he knows exactly where he wants to play. After being part of the storied Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens rivalry when he was in Pittsburgh, Brown has said he wants to join his former enemy and play with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Antonio Brown went on the @IAMATHLETEpod and said he wants to play with Lamar Jackson next.
Fill in the blank: Antonio Brown is +______ to play with the Ravens in 2022pic.twitter.com/BjB7zjxNkc
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) January 24, 2022
Following his appearance, Brown then took to his official Twitter account and made his pitch official. He posted a picture of himself in a full Ravens uniform with no caption.
— AB (@AB84) January 25, 2022
Antonio Brown and Baltimore Ravens Are a Bad Match
There is no denying the talent of Brown at this point in his career. Despite turning 33 this past July, the four-time All-Pro finished 2021 with 42 receptions, 545 yards, and four touchdowns in just seven games. He was also in a somewhat unflattering role behind both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the depth chart.
Brown is still a high-caliber NFL receiver but his personality is his most unpredictable trait. The Ravens have never been an organization that likes to concern themselves with outside noise and Brown brings the noise in abundance. As much as Jackson and the Ravens could benefit from a talent like Brown, the two parties do not seem like a match.
Ravens Player Advocacy for Brown
It is hard to separate Antonio Brown the football player from Antonio Brown the person. Brown is an incredibly polarizing figure in the media but he is a great football player when he can stay on the field. He also seems to have a fairly large following from the players around the NFL.
Brown’s relationship with Jackson is already extensive. First off, he is cousins with Jackson’s favorite wide receiver target Marquise Brown. The three worked out together as recently as 2020 and Baltimore was pegged as a potential landing spot prior to Brown signing with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Jackson also retweeted and reacted to Brown’s I Am Athlete interview on Twitter with an emoji commonly used when referring to the Ravens.
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) January 24, 2022
Jackson was not the only Ravens to respond to Brown’s statements. Marlon Humphrey, Patrick Queen, and L.J. Fort were among a number of Ravens who also reacted or retweeted Brown’s post of him in a Baltimore uniform.
While the Ravens front office will have the final say on whether or not Brown even enters the Ravens training facility, there seems to be some backing from the faces of their franchise. If general manager Eric DeCosta, head coach John Harbaugh, and the Ravens brass do end up bringing Brown to Baltimore in some capacity, he probably would not have trouble meshing with a number of his new teammates.
Previous Outside Issues Within the Ravens Organization
The outside factors in Brown’s career are what makes signing him such a complex decision. He is a potential Hall of Fame wide receiver but he has already played for four different teams over the past four seasons, despite regularly contributing when he gets on the field. Brown has played in 16 games since leaving the Steelers and has totaled 91 receptions for 1,084 yards and nine total touchdowns.
However, quality play can only get you so far with the Ravens. Over the past decade, if a Ravens player has had an issue that negatively affected the image of the team and the players inside the building, they have been swiftly removed.
This goes back as far as the Ray Rice incident and most recently, came to a head with the release of safety Earl Thomas. Thomas had his contract terminated by the Ravens following a fight between himself and teammate Chuck Clark. The fight was apparently the tipping point in Thomas’s growing unpopularity in the Ravens locker room and while his on-field contributions were still fairly useful, Ravens management seemed to have had enough.
If Harbaugh and company were not willing to deal with Thomas’s antics, they likely would not have a long leash, if any, for Brown.
Could Brown Be Happy in Baltimore?
The Ravens are a very specific offense. Their identity is firmly rooted in running the ball as they have finished as a top-three rushing offense in each of the past four seasons. Their offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, has developed an offense completely tailored to the dual-threat ability of Lamar Jackson and he will likely stay very committed to his approach as he enters his fourth season as the Ravens offensive coordinator.
If I’m the Ravens, I’m staying as far away from Antonio Brown as I can. If he couldn’t be happy with Tom Brady and the Bucs locker room, what makes you think he’s going to be happy in Baltimore? pic.twitter.com/KbJ59nOsN6
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) January 25, 2022
Jackson may have led the NFL in passing touchdowns in 2019 but the Ravens offense is not centered around their quarterback attempting 35-plus passes a game. Jackson has averaged just over 27 passing attempts per game over his four-year career, though he averaged a season-high 31.8 attempts per game in 2021.
Brown would also be fighting for targets on a team that has recently put a lot of stock into the receiver position. Mark Andrews, a 2021 All-Pro tight end, set the Ravens record for receiving yards in a season in 2021 after recording 107 catches for 1,361 yards. Marquise Brown and 2021 rookie Rashod Bateman are both first-round picks over the past three seasons as well.
Simply put, Brown has made it known he wants the ball in his hands and the Ravens may not offer him enough touches to keep him happy. He infamously threw a watercooler back in 2018 when Ben Roethlisberger failed to see him wide open on a downfield route despite his team holding the lead. Unless Brown is willing to accept a less prominent receiving role, he is not going to fit into the Ravens offense.
Ravens and Brown Are a Bad Match
There is no doubt that the Ravens could use Brown’s skill set. However, the ramifications of bringing in a personality like his do not aline with their core principles and they probably could not offer him the role he has typically desired. Adding a former All-Pro to the Ravens already dynamic offense is an exciting prospect but Brown is not the guy for the job.