LeSean McCoy Offers Thought Provoking Antonio Brown Defense

Antonio Brown, Buccaneers
NFL Analysis Network

The on-field outburst from former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receive Antonio Brown received a lot of attention on social media and in reports; ultimately leading to his release from the team.

There has been quite various perspectives to the situation that offer contrasting information, but the latest is rather fascinating and comes from his former teammate, LeSean McCoy, during a recent appearance on “I Am Athlete” podcast.

McCoy offered an intriguing context to the inner-workings of the Buccaneers when it comes to player performance incentives in their contracts. He mentioned that offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has asked players about the incentives in their contracts and that he’s “all about” helping them to achieve those to get paid.

During the 2020 NFL season, McCoy offered an example of when Mike Evans was 40 yards short from reaching his 1,000 yard incentive entering the season finale. Despite the Buccaneers already having clinched a playoff spot, Evans was thrown enough times to rack up 46 yards to meet the incentive requirement.

“That was last year, so this year, AB’s like, ‘Oh I see that, so that’s what we’re doing? Now I’m up. I can’t get my eight catches and you’re throwing the ball to all these other people?… I’m hot. I’m hurt. I’m not going in… y’all ain’t getting me the ball. I ain’t hitting my targets. I’m hurt,’” McCoy said.

In most of the original accounts of the sideline incident, many alluded to Antonio Brown not being satisfied with the number of targets he was receiving in the first half of the matchup against the New York Jets. In the week prior, he racked up a season-high 15 targets resulting in 10 receptions and 101 yards in the Buccaneers’ 32-6 win over the Carolina Panthers.

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Brown was close to satisfying the requirements for various incentives that would have paid $333,333 for meeting certain volume of receptions, yards, and touchdowns. With Chris Godwin sidelined and Mike Evans playing through injury, Brown still wasn’t getting targeted at a high-rate.

“I do understand where AB was coming from because ‘y’all playing with me. I just gave you 10 catches for 101 yards last week, these dudes is hurt, now you need me… and I’m not getting the rock,’” McCoy said. “Those other dudes, I played with them, I respect all those dudes playing. Mike Evans is a dog, Chris Godwin — they’re dogs. The other backups, they’re good backups, but they ain’t Antonio Brown.”

Another layer of context that McCoy added was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ previous desire to release Brown from the roster due to submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card that resulted in a suspension. After Evans and Godwin suffered injuries, the team shifted course.

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With Bucs GM Jason Licht making note of Brown being “upset about who was getting targeted” and Brown’s request to convert his $2 million of remaining incentives into guaranteed money, could that have been a factor in his involvement in the Buccaneers’ offense against the Jets?

“AB, people think he’s crazy, he’s not crazy,” McCoy said. “AB’s smart. He may do some wild stuff, but he knows what’s going on.”

“I don’t respect how AB reacted to it because that’s not the right way… AB wasn’t professional about it. But I’ve been there where coach is trying to play with you and he still thinks he’s that superstar and he’s still nice, but not the superstar he used to be.”

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It seems as though Brown would agree with McCoy’s assessment after having time to reflect on what happened. He recently stated that his actions “probably wasn’t necessary or professional” when recently asked by TMZ.

As Antonio Brown gears up for ankle surgery on Jan. 18, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card Round with a depleted receiving group for Tom Brady to work with in the passing game.