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Antonio Brown, Bucs close on one-year deal, giving Tom Brady another familiar weapon

Tom Brady and Antonio Brown appear on the verge of a reunion in Tampa bay with the Bucs. (Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Wide receiver Antonio Brown, whose once-brilliant NFL career was derailed last year by off-field issues, was working Friday to complete a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that would reunite him with quarterback Tom Brady, his teammate for one game last season with the New England Patriots.

Negotiations between Brown and the Buccaneers were far along and the two sides were expected to finalize the deal soon, barring any last-minute snags, according to a person familiar with the situation. Brown was en route to Tampa and must comply with a six-day entry process, under the NFL’s protocols, before being allowed into the Buccaneers’ training facility, provided that he tests negative for the novel coronavirus.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection is nearing completion of his eight-game suspension imposed by the NFL in July for what the league called multiple violations of its personal conduct policy. He would be eligible to play for the Buccaneers in their Week 9 game on Nov. 8 against the New Orleans Saints in Tampa.

Brown, 32, is said to have a strong relationship with Brady, although the two played only one game together. The Patriots signed Brown last season after he was released by the Raiders, who had obtained him in an offseason trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the Patriots released Brown after one game amid mounting allegations of off-field misconduct.

In Tampa, Brown joins a group of wide receivers that includes Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The Buccaneers are off to a 4-2 start after signing Brady, the six-time Super Bowl winner for New England, upon his offseason departure from the Patriots. If Brown can fit in, stay on the field and regain anything resembling his previous form, he could help the Buccaneers vie for NFC supremacy and a potential Super Bowl appearance in their own stadium in February.

Brown’s deal is expected to be for a relatively modest salary, bolstered by incentives. Buccaneers Coach Bruce Arians previously had said the team was not interested in trying to sign Brown.

The Seattle Seahawks also had said they were involved in the process by which Brown would select his next NFL team.

“We have endeavored to be in on everything that’s going on and John [Schneider, the team’s general manager] has done a marvelous job of always being tuned into what’s happening,” Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “And this is no exception. So we’ll see what happens as we go forward. But we’re tuned into what’s happening there.”

According to a person familiar with the NFL’s view of Brown’s case, Brown is eligible to be signed and will be permitted to play when his suspension expires. An investigation by the NFL into allegations of sexual assault made against Brown remains open but no conclusions have been reached, that person said Wednesday. Brown could face additional disciplinary measures by the league if the NFL finds what it considers credible evidence to support a finding that he committed further violations of the conduct policy, according to that person.

The eight-game suspension imposed by the NFL was independent of the allegations of sexual assault and rape made against Brown by Britney Taylor, a former college classmate who later worked for him as a trainer. Brown denied the accusations. Another woman who painted a mural for Brown accused him of sending her threatening text messages after it was reported that she had ignored his unwanted sexual advances. Brown pleaded no contest in June to charges in Florida related to an incident in January involving a moving truck.

Brown was one of the NFL’s most productive pass catchers for the Steelers but never played a game for the Raiders after being traded to Oakland before last season. He was released by the Raiders, at his request, after a series of incidents that included a practice-field verbal confrontation with General Manager Mike Mayock. Brown also missed time because of injuries to his feet suffered while undergoing cryotherapy treatments and because of two failed grievances against the NFL as he sought to be permitted to wear a helmet not up the safety standards of the league and the NFL Players Association.