Antonio Brown is still an unrestricted free agent.
The reason the teams avoided him was because of his impending suspension that the NFL was going to hand him over. Better to let him get suspended as a free agent than to be hooked for the money they give him up front. Eight games is the magic number of games for which Brown will be suspended. After his eight games are over, he will be free to sign with any team interested in the former All Pro wide receiver.
One team that is already ranked as favorites to sign him is the Seattle Seahawks for a variety of reasons. The main reason is his connection to Russell Wilson. Seattle could very well recognize him and sign Brown.
If that does eventually become a reality, it would be a nightmare for the San Francisco 49ers.
The Seattle attack with Wilson alone was already a nuisance to contend with. As long as he’s the Seahawks quarterback, the 49ers can never ignore them. Even in Week 17, when the 49ers beat the Seahawks for three quarters, Seattle still managed a comeback to pull it out in the final game. In fact, if the Seahawks hadn’t tried to get all cute by forcing Marshawn Lynch into the rotation, which delayed the game’s penalty, they might have been the 2019 NFC West Champions.
Just imagine adding Brown to that list.
The Seattle receiving squad is already strong with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. You put Brown in that lineup and you might as well hand Wilson the MVP trophy. The 49ers’ defense is elite – one of the best in the game. But even their defense lacks the depth to cover all three wide outs, especially a player of Brown’s caliber.
Richard Sherman would get burned easily, Emmanuel Moseley would get slipped like a top, and Ahkello Witherspoon… well let’s not go there. K’Waun Williams might be the best guy to cover Brown as he has no problem getting aggressive. I know the 49ers don’t often air the coverage of men, but there are ways you can “beat your man” by manipulating him. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh himself would even admit to conspiring against Brown due to his skills and ability to play both inside and outside.
The 49ers would still have the overall advantage against the Seahawks, but the addition of Brown puts this game on another planet. He could be the wildcard they add mid-season when his suspension is in place to push them closer to a higher seed, if not challenge the 49ers for the division title.
Of course, all of this will only happen if there is interest from both sides. A lot can happen in eight games in a season. As far as we know, it could be the 49ers who would attack Brown if they were bitten by the injury bug again.
Or it could be a way to avoid joining Seattle. Either way, it allows for great anticipation when Brown’s suspension is over.