Brown's Lawsuit Not the Deciding Factor in Negotiations With Buccaneers

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht commented on free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown's civil lawsuit settlement on Wednesday.
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On Wednesday, representatives of free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown and Britney Taylor confirmed that civil litigations stemming from alleged sexual assault incidents in 2017 and 2018 have ceased following a settlement. Brown most recently played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, signing midseason after the court date for this case was postponed until 2021.

Taylor's attorney, David Haas, released the following statement regarding the settlement.

"Antonio and Britney have been friends for over a decade. Several years ago they almost became business partners. Recently, they were involved in aggressive litigation. Having reflected on their relationship, both feel that the time has come to move on. Antonio is grateful for Britney's excellent training assistance. They are pleased that Antonio is doing so well with the Bucs and has a ring. Their dispute is resolved and they wish each other great continued success."

Brown remains a free agent after the new league year began nearly a month ago in March, despite a productive, Super Bowl-winning season with the Buccaneers. Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight regular-season games with Tampa Bay and is a four-time First-Team All-Pro wide receiver.

Speaking with media on Wednesday, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht expressed that the previously pending case wasn't a deciding factor on if Tampa Bay would look to retain Brown in pursuit of a consecutive league title. The Bucs have negotiated with Brown's camp throughout the offseason, which head coach Bruce Arians previously indicated in March before a settlement was reached.

"It's always good when there is some resolution but we signed him, like you said, last year with the civil case looming," Licht responded to a question regarding clarity with Brown's situation now. "So, all I can go off of is what we saw of Antonio on our team this year and, you know, he obviously was a good player, but he was a great teammate. 

"So, to have this resolved, it certainly helps but it wasn't, you know, that isn't necessarily the deciding factor of whether or not we're going to continue to talk."

Brown had to complete an eight-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy last year, which led to a game on the sidelines with the Buccaneers after signing a one-year deal with the team in October. Although allegations against Brown were disturbing, the Buccaneers took a chance on Brown and it paid off. In return, Brown has been considered a valuable presence and not a distraction by teammates and staff alike.

Perhaps the settlement helps Brown's chances as it pertains to returning to Tampa Bay for a second season. However, based on Licht's comments and Brown's situation a year ago not preventing the Buccaneers from signing him, the case hasn't been the be-all and end-all in contract negotiations.

"We've had discussions throughout the offseason and as you can tell, we've put an emphasis on bringing back players, our players from last year that contributed to our success, and he would be no different," Licht said. "So, we'll continue to have talks and see where it goes."