The smoke connecting the Seahawks to troubled star wide receiver Antonio Brown keeps billowing, as Seattle continues their search for an addition to their passing game and Brown continues his search for a way back into the NFL after forcing himself out a year ago.
On Monday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler was asked about the Seahawks’ interest in Brown and offered his understanding on the two. “The Seahawks have done a deep dive on Antonio Brown, they’ve done a lot of research on him,” Fowler said. “Now, they’ve been doing that with a lot of free agents anyways, but considering his talent, they’ve looked into it and they feel they have a good grasp on who he is both as a player and as a person which is crucial, given his off-field issues.”
Fowler followed those remarks with a massively important caveat, adding, “Now, don’t expect a signing to be imminent right now, it might not happen at all. They certainly are monitoring the information but several teams are on hold with Brown because they are waiting on the suspension. The NFL has not tipped its hand on how many games Brown will be suspended for his issues, but it will be at least some, that’s what every team expects.”
The latest on Brown and Seattle only reaffirms what had already been made clear, that the Seahawks have had internal discussions about adding the receiver. That was made clear last year when Pete Carroll admitted the team checked in on Brown after his release from the Raiders. It was made clear through Russell Wilson and Brown working out together. It was made clear earlier this offseason, by a report from NFL Network’s Mike Silver which named Seattle as a team who had discussed Brown.
However, it also reaffirms another important part of any conversation surrounding Brown and the Seahawks—that any interest from the team simply might not matter. Just as Fowler added the caveat to his report, that any team interested in Brown will wait for the NFL to hand down a suspension, so too did Silver in his initial report, calling Seattle a team that would be “Interested in having him as a late-season addition,” following his suspension.
Brown’s pending suspension from the NFL, which has been speculated by various insiders including Fowler to be “lengthy,” only further muddies the waters for his return. Before Brown was cut by the Patriots, the league was considering placing him on the commissioner's exempt list, rendering him ineligible to play. Should a team sign him in the near future, that list is undoubtedly where he would initially land. More likely, however, is the NFL waits for his legal proceedings to play out and then issues a suspension accordingly. (Commissioner Roger Goodell, when asked, has only previously said the league’s investigation is ongoing.)
Without a suspension handed down until after the legal process has played out, Brown, the Seahawks, and the rest of the NFL will continue to wait. As of mid-July, Brown’s civil lawsuit case for an alleged rape was headed for mediation with no end date in sight—and only further complicated by the rising cases of COVID-19 in Florida, where the civil suit is filed.
Brown’s ongoing legal issues underscore that not only can the wideout not be counted on in the present, but his availability moving forward is completely unknown. (Further complicating that aspect is Brown’s apparent retirement announcement on Twitter on Monday—the third of its kind since last fall.)
An alternative, should Seattle be set on adding a wide receiver, would be Josh Gordon. Despite his December suspension, Gordon has remained in the area training and would reportedly be keen to rejoin the Seahawks. A decision on his reinstatement could come as early as this week and, upon signing, would only be facing a two-game suspension. Reliability, availability, and cost all weigh in Gordon’s favor when comparing the two receivers as options for Seattle.
Ultimately, it is clear the Seahawks would be interested in adding Brown, should the situation be right. However, it also remains clear that despite mutual interest between the two parties, it appears unlikely Brown’s NFL return would occur in Seattle—if anywhere.