Antonio Brown Eligible To Return Midway Through The 2020 NFL Season

Antonio Brown #17 of the New England Patriots looks on against the Miami Dolphins.
Michael Reaves / Getty Images

Antonio Brown received some clarity on his football career on Friday. Robert Klemko of The Washington Post reported on Twitter that Brown had an eight-game suspension handed down by the commissioner’s office. The punishment came as a response to what the NFL referred to as “repeated violations of the personal conduct policy.”

When the ruling was made, there was a bit of confusion over when exactly the ban would take place. Klemko first reported the counter would start whenever Brown signed with a franchise.

Dov Kleiman later clarified in a tweet that Brown will miss the first eight contests in the 2020 season, no matter when he signs a new contract. In other words, no matter who gives him a contract, or when it’s completed, he’ll be cleared to return to the field in week nine this year.

NFL analysts pointed out this move provides clarity for Brown and for any team that might be looking to sign him. Before Friday, numerous coaches and front office personnel had pointed to not knowing when he might be able to play again as one reason there wasn’t any action on signing the wide receiver.

Knowing he will be available for half the regular season and all of any playoff appearances a franchise might appear in could start generating real interest, according to Kleiman.

Antonio Brown #17 of the New England Patriots celebrates
  Michael Reaves / Getty Images

The reporter also said the league fully expects Brown to continue going to counseling and seeking treatment for the issues that saw him violate the personal conduct rules that got him in trouble in the first place.

Brown was reportedly also advised that — should he get into the same kind of trouble in the future — his punishment will almost certainly be more severe.

Over the course of the summer, the Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and Tampa Bay Buccanneers had all expressed at least some interest in the receiver. Earlier this week, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said he would like to play with Brown.

After Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh was questioned about Jackson’s comments, he said he wouldn’t necessarily have any problem bringing the former Pro Bowler on board. Harbaugh’s comments even alluded to the uncertainty surrounding whether or not Brown would be allowed to play this year as the biggest roadblock to signing him.

“We’ll look at any players at any time,” he told Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun, which can be seen here. “I don’t think he’s even available to sign.”

The ruling on Friday means that Brown is, in fact, available to sign, for any team willing to wait until the mid-point of the 2020 NFL season for him to play for them.