Around the NFL: Antonio Brown’s Side, Arkush and Rodgers Feud? Baker’s Murky Future in Cleveland, More

Week 18 of the NFL season is upon us, but before we get into the final week of action on the field, there are a few things around the league of note to discuss in todays Around the NFL.

Antonio Brown’s Side of the Story

Antonio Brown is the storyline that never stops giving in the NFL. After having a few days to ponder his most recent head-scratching outburst, Brown released a lengthy statement on Sunday’s incident through his attorney, Sean Burstyn.

Here’s the gist; AB claims he was too injured to play on Sunday against the Jets and that the team, more specifically, Bruce Arians, knew about the injury and his desire not to play. AB claims that the team forced him to receive treatment on the ankle in the form of a pain-killer injection, ordered him to play on Sunday, and that Arians “cut” him during Sunday’s game after he refused to re-enter again because he was in pain.

Brown also claims that he had an MRI done on Monday morning, and the MRI revealed “broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss, which are beyond painful. You can see the bone bulging from the outside.”

Look, I’m not a doctor or a pro athlete, but the severity of the injury that Brown described in his statement seems like something that would require at least … not suiting up at all, right?

But, here’s Antonio Brown sitting courtside at the Brooklyn Nets game on Monday night, looking pretty comfortable for a guy with a mangled foot in the manner he described.

Today, Antonio Brown took it a step further by tweeting some screenshots of an alleged conversation with Bucs’ head coach Bruce Arians.

One thing is evident here, and that’s that Antonio Brown isn’t going to take his dismissal from the Buccaneers without a fight, and he’s mounted the public defense of his actions and villainized the coach that is the reason he is still even a topic of discussion in the NFL.

We don’t know what happened, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of the two stories, but for me, the bottom line is this; I don’t care what Antonio Brown has to say at this point. Brown has proven time and time again to be an agitator and a liar. He was run out of three teams before the Buccaneers gave him a shot. He has countless documented off-field issues centered around his volatile personality and untrustworthy actions.

Just this season, he served a three-game suspension for submitting a falsified vaccination record to the NFL, a revelation that came to light when a former chef that he stiffed on payment spilled the beans. So, forgive us all for being a bit cynical regarding Antonio Brown’s version of the “truth.”

UPDATE: The Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown and released the following statement:

Hub Arkush Sticks His Foot in His Mouth

Hub Arkush isn’t a fan of Aaron Rodgers as a person. Still, the veteran scribe went and stuck his foot in his mouth big time this week when he said that he wouldn’t vote for Aaron Rodgers as the NFL’s MVP because he’s the “biggest jerk in the league,” among other things, including vaccination status and his offseason holdout.

As you might have expected, Aaron Rodgers had something to say about Hub’s comments.

Hub has since attempted to walk his comments back and apologize for speaking out of pocket on his AP vote for the NFL’s MVP Award, and you can read that here if you choose.

Look, make of the mess what you will. I couldn’t care less. Hub’s comments didn’t surprise me in the least, and neither did Rodgers’ rebuttal. Whatever, let’s talk football.

Baker’s Murky Future in Cleveland

It seems that all is not well in Cleveland after the team failed to live up to their lofty preseason expectations. Baker Mayfield has been hurt for much of the season, and now that the blame game has commenced in Cleveland, it seems like Mayfield might be ready for a change of scenery.

The Browns picked up Mayfield’s fifth-year option last spring, so the quarterback has one year left in Cleveland at $18.5 million unless the Browns cut him or trade him. Cutting him seems unlikely since the Browns would have that entire $18.5 million cap hit go as dead money, so a trade this offseason seems like a likely parting of the ways for the two sides.

The question now becomes, what is a quarterback of Mayfield’s caliber on a one-year deal worth to a team in need at the quarterback position. The answer is probably not much. I can’t see the Browns fetching much more than (at most) a third-round or (more likely) fourth-round draft pick for Mayfield.

In his four seasons in Cleveland, Mayfield has thrown for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns, and 56 interceptions while completing 61.6 percent of his passes and posting a quarterback rating of 87.8. If Mayfield was on a longer-term deal, we might discuss a more significant return for Cleveland in a potential trade.  His numbers haven’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination in Cleveland, but he’s been surrounded by the best Browns team in a very long time the past few years and has failed to do anything beyond a single playoff appearance last season.

It just seems as though his time in Cleveland has run its course, and the two sides are in line for a change.

The Extra Point(s)

•   The Week 18 schedule has been finalized, and there are a few games of interest this weekend with playoff implications for our viewing pleasure.

•   Big Ben’s future seems as inevitable as it ever has after Monday night’s curtain call in what will likely be his final game at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger’s impending retirement closes the book on the legendary 2004 quarterback class featuring Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers.

•   For my fellow fans of The Wire:

•   Welcome to Speculation SZN:

•   T.J. Watt has a shot at making history this Sunday!

•   This cat will be a problem for the NFC North for a while.

•   Calvin Johnson currently holds the single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards in the 2012 season, but Cooper Kupp needs just 136 yards on Sunday to break his record. 👀

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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