Antonio Brown has made it clear — he wants back on the New England Patriots as soon as possible.
The free agent wide receiver took to Instagram on Sunday afternoon to post a picture of himself wearing a Patriots jersey. The picture was in the style of an Old West wanted poster, with the caption calling for a return to the Patriots.
“Last seen September 15th in Miami,” the poster read. “Reward for Return to Gillette Stadium.”
The post appeared to be a culmination of social media activity aimed at getting back in New England’s good graces after Brown’s controversial exit. Brown was released by the Patriots less than two weeks after signing amid a series of sexual misconduct allegations and reports that Brown had sent an intimidating text message to one of his accusers — a message sent while he was inside the Patriots team facility.
A few days after his release, Brown took to Twitter to call out the Patriots, and owner Robert Kraft in particular, appearing to make reference to the allegations that Kraft solicited a prostitute.
But since then, Brown has issued a series of apologies, including a recent one that some believed to be aimed directly at the Patriots. In the message, Brown said that he was taking “full responsibility” for his actions and that he would “work extremely hard” if given another chance to play in the NFL.
Brown would likely need to convince the Patriots of that if he wants to return. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports had reported that many Patriots “players and coaches would welcome him back,” though Kraft ultimately had the final say. Brown would be a major boost to a Patriots offense that has struggled over the course of the last month, a period in which the once-unbeaten team went 2-2 and lost control of the top overall seed in the AFC to the Baltimore Ravens. The receiver core has been a particular weakness during that period, leading to quarterback Tom Brady publicly dressing them down during a loss to the Houston Texans.
But it likely wouldn’t be as simple as Kraft deciding to give Brown another chance. The All Pro wide receiver still faces an NFL investigation for the sexual misconduct allegations, meaning there could still be a suspension in his future — one that would not go into effect until after he signs with another team. With the regular season dwindling down, it is a real possibility that Brown would not be eligible to play at all this season, though he could potentially be back for the playoffs.