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Commentary: Should the Seahawks roll the dice on Antonio Brown?

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 22, 2020

Antonio Brown played one game for the New England Patriots in the 2019 season, catching four passes for a touchdown.  (Brynn Anderson)
Antonio Brown played one game for the New England Patriots in the 2019 season, catching four passes for a touchdown. (Brynn Anderson)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Was there any doubt that their name was going to pop up first?

When it came to Antonio Brown’s potential destination, you had to figure the Seattle Seahawks were going to be the team grabbing the headlines, right?

If there is A-list talent on the market, Seattle is going to pursue it ( Jadeveon Clowney, Jamal Adams and Jimmy Graham). If there is a player with off-the-field issues, Seattle rarely balks ( Frank Clark, Mychal Kendricks and Josh Gordon).

When ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Seahawks were one of the teams looking at Brown – the troubled wide receiver whose suspension is eligible to end after Week 8 – it shouldn’t have caught anybody who follows this team off guard. But would signing the seven-time Pro Bowler really be a good idea?

Remember what Brown did with the Raiders last year? First, he missed all but one of 11 training-camp practices due to frostbite he suffered after not wearing proper footwear during a cryotherapy session. Then, he filed a grievance to continue wearing his old helmet even though it was banned by the league. He later posted a letter on Instagram detailing his fines from unexcused absences, reportedly threatened to hit general manager Mike Mayock, and a day after making an emotional apology to coaches and teammates, demanded his release from the team.

These aren’t the actions of someone who’s gonna get a call from Jerry Jones one day. They’re the actions of someone who’s gonna get a call from Jerry Springer.

But even more concerning than those shenanigans are the sexual-assault allegations brought forth by his former trainer Britney Taylor. There was also a felony burglary and misdemeanor battery charge last March. All of this led to the suspension Brown is serving for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.

Wednesday, a reporter asked Seahawks coach Pete Carroll about the 32-year-old’s antics.

“We’re nowhere there right now. Let’s wait and see what happens,” Carroll said, indicating that signing Brown is far from a foregone conclusion. “We do all of the homework we can think of doing. We will never think that we can leave a stone unturned. That’s how we approach everything.”

That brings us to why Brown coming to the Seahawks might work after all.

First, Carroll seems to get production out of players who once had lost their way.

Kendricks, who was arrested for insider trading, gave the Seahawks two solid seasons and was re-signed to the practice squad Wednesday. Gordon, who has battled substance addiction throughout his career, caught key passes in two victories last season. Clark, who was dismissed from his college team after a domestic-violence arrest, tallied 35 sacks in four seasons in Seattle.

It doesn’t mean all loose cannons become straight arrows in this town (Percy Harvin being the key example), but the track record is there.

Second, the Seahawks – or any team Brown might sign with – have all the leverage. Playing and carrying himself well over the final eight weeks of this season is likely Brown’s last chance at a long-term contract. If he creates problems the way he did with the Raiders, no team will want to take a chance on him again.

He is friends with Seahawks quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Geno Smith. He has not won a Super Bowl. Is it crazy to think that all these factors could turn Brown into a model teammate for two months?

It’s not as though the Seahawks would lose much if he didn’t. Brown’s past makes it unlikely that any team will want to offer him much money. They could roll the dice with a small contract like they did with Gordon last year, and if he causes trouble, they ditch him and still have one of the NFL’s most potent passing attacks.

As Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said when asked about Brown joining the team: “Whether he’s here or not here, I don’t know. But I know that we have a great group of guys, and I’m confident in the guys that we have.”

Assuming Seattle is where Brown wants to come (a star quarterback and a 5-0 record makes it enticing), the Seahawks still have a tough decision to make.

This is not a man who just had a bad day or two. This is a man who has consistently acted out and faced disturbing accusations. But this is also a man who, just a short while ago, was considered the best receiver in football.

I suspect that a lot of fans will shake their fists in protest if Brown ends up signing here. I also suspect that many will pump their fists in celebration.

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