Antonio Brown’s potential return to the NFL won’t take place until at least midway through the 2020 season.
The free agent wide receiver has been suspended for the first eight games of the upcoming campaign for multiple violations of the league’s personal conduct policy, the NFL announced Friday.
The suspension will take place as of Sept. 5. Brown is permitted to sign with any team and take part in any preseason activities.
Brown remains unsigned after playing in just one game for the New England Patriots last season. He was released on Sept. 20, one day after Sports Illustrated reported Brown sent intimidating text messages to a woman who had accused him of sexual misconduct.
Britney Taylor, one of Brown’s former trainers, also filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the wide receiver sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions in 2017 and 2018. The NFL began investigating Brown under its personal conduct policy shortly after, and the league is continuing its probe into the claims, according to multiple reports. Additional violations of the league’s conduct policy “will likely result in more significant discipline,” the league said in its statement Friday.
In June, Brown also pleaded no contest to a felony burglary with battery charge as part of an incident with a moving truck company outside his home in Hollywood, Florida.
Brown, 32, is one of the most decorated wide receivers of his era. A selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-2010s team, he has been named to the All-Pro team four times and the Pro Bowl seven times. His 75 touchdown catches rank second among all active players.
At the end of the 2018 season, Brown was declared inactive for a crucial Week 17 contest after skipping practices, a walkthrough and a team meeting, and he left the game at halftime. He was subsequently traded to the Oakland Raiders, but he never played in a game for the team and instead was released last September after repeatedly clashing with general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden over missed practices, helmet requirements and team-issued fines.
Brown signed with the Patriots two days after his split with the Raiders, but his time in New England lasted just 11 days.
Since the investigation began, Brown has suggested on multiple occasions that he would retire from the NFL only to seemingly reverse course shortly after. In an Instagram post last Thursday, he called the league’s continuation of its investigations “completely unacceptable” and demanded “clarity on this situation immediately.”
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.