The Antonio Brown Saga, Other Tuesday Notes
For most people, the fantasy football season is over, but there’s still lots of action around the league, even though Tuesday isn’t the most news-packed day for the NFL. Still, that doesn’t mean yesterday was totally devoid of any happenings, so let’s break down the most relevant tidbits.
Buccaneers Still Yet to Release Antonio Brown
After WR Antonio Brown took off his jersey and ran off the field in Week 17, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said that “he is no longer a Buc.” Two days later, Tampa Bay has yet to release the former star wideout, likely because they are talking to the league about how to handle the situation (potentially because they don’t want to have to pay the rest of his contract). Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported on Tuesday evening that Brown went to a non-Bucs-affiliated doctor and got an MRI leading up to Week 17 because of his ankle injury. Stroud went on to say that Brown’s camp believed the receiver was not healthy enough to play. It’s anyone’s guess how much truth is in that statement or whether Brown’s people just want to paint him in a good light, so we’ll just have to see what happens. As things stand right now, Brown is still on the team and could technically show up for practice tomorrow, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine that happening given what has transpired over the past few days. For all intents and purposes, Brown’s career as a Buc – and potentially his career as an NFL player – is over. We’ll just have to monitor news to see how it officially ends.
Titans Expect Derrick Henry to Practice on Wednesday
Miraculously, the Titans are the top seed in the AFC right now despite having dealt with numerous injuries throughout the season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. However, there could be some good news out of Tennessee in the coming days, as it appears star RB Derrick Henry is on track to practice on Wednesday.
Henry hasn’t played since Week 8, but he still flirted with a 1,000-yard campaign despite his injury. Henry had a monster 219 carries and 937 yards during the first half of the season, and he is one of the few running backs in the league who truly is the engine for his team’s offense. He may not play in Week 18, but he should be back for the playoffs since he’s already set to practice, especially if the Titans can secure the first seed in the AFC and the accompanying first-round bye.
Washington to Unveil New Team Name on February 2
The Washington Football Team is set to announce their new team name on February 2. Washington has gone by the “Football Team” for the past two seasons but appears poised to take on a new nickname.
Lamar Jackson Could Play in Week 18
Ravens star QB Lamar Jackson could suit up for Week 18 after suffering an ankle injury in Week 14. The Ravens would need to win and get some outside help in order to qualify for the postseason, but it makes sense for Baltimore to play their star signal-caller if he’s healthy just in the off-chance that they get the results they need to make the postseason. If he plays, Jackson’s dual-threat ability could be limited given the ankle ailment – there was a video last week of him hobbling around at Ravens practice, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that he’ll be his usual brilliant self one week later – but he still would be a must-start option for any fantasy managers whose league goes into Week 18. If he can’t go, Tyler Huntley would get the start for Baltimore once again.
Baker Mayfield Will Undergo Surgery and Miss Week 18
Baker Mayfield will undergo labrum surgery and miss Week 18 and the playoffs if the Browns qualify. Case Keenum will start in his absence. Mayfield has had a tumultuous campaign and enters a critical contract year in 2022. The Browns will have to make a decision on whether Mayfield is their future sometime in the near future, and the former Heisman winner’s 2021 performance didn’t help his chances of scoring a second contract with the team that drafted him number one overall. Mayfield completed just 60.5% of his passes this year for 3,010 yards, 17 touches, and 13 picks. He averaged just 7.2 yards per attempt. He hit rock bottom in a primetime Week 16 game against the Packers when he threw four interceptions and decimated the Browns’ chances of upsetting the Packers with his turnover-prone play.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire DNP on Tuesday but Could Play in Week 18
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire did not practice on Tuesday due to a shoulder injury, but the second-year back could still play in Kansas City’s regular-season finale against Denver in Week 18. If he’s unable to go, Darrel Williams would maintain his lucrative role as the lead back in a Patrick Mahomes-led offense. Week 18 is pivotal for the Chiefs, as they need a win and a Titans loss to get the one seed in the AFC, which brings with it a first-round bye and home field advantage until the Super Bowl.
Jim Harbaugh Considering NFL Return
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is reportedly considering a return to the NFL, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. These rumors come less than a week after Michigan got curb-stomped in the College Football Playoff semifinal by Georgia so it’s possible Harbaugh’s camp is starting these rumors to get him more money from the Wolverines after a successful season (despite the ending), but Feldman reports that there is smoke around these rumors from both the NFL and Harbaugh. It’s a situation worth watching for teams with vacant head coaching positions. Harbaugh’s last NFL head coaching tenure was for the 49ers in 2014.