Why Antonio Brown’s explosion with the Buccaneers was fueled by the team’s approach to incentives, says former Bucs RB LeSean McCoy

Antonio Brown claims he was ‘cut’ by the Buccaneers because he refused to play with an ankle injury, but one of Brown’s former teammates believes money played a part in his decision to snatch his gear and leave in the middle of the Bucs’ Week 17 game against the Jets.

During an appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, former Tampa Bay running back LeSean McCoy offered insight into Brown’s unceremonious exit and explained why the veteran receiver was so upset on the sidelines. McCoy, who played for the Buccaneers during the 2020 season, couldn’t confirm if Brown was really too injured to continue playing, but he told the podcast panel that Brown was “angry” because he didn’t. was not targeted and had online incentives. .

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Brown was reportedly close to earning three bonuses (receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns) that would have netted $333,333 each. McCoy said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich openly discussed player incentives in 2020, leading Brown to believe they would help him achieve his 2021 season goals (A recent example: In Week 18, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady made sure tight end Rob Gronkowski hit the required reception total to earn a $500,000 bonus. )

McCoy’s full breakdown of the “I Am Athlete Podcast”:

“[We’re in] like, Week 13 or 14, [Leftwich is] like, ‘Hey, does anyone have any incentives in your contract? If so, let me know. I’ll get you your paper because I’m all about it. … One of the games, Mike Evans was playing. We played in Detroit. The year is over for real. We’re good, playoff spot and all that. Mike is trying to get 1,000 yards. I say, ‘Yo, I love this type of coach. I respect him. [Arians is] cool with that.

“So let’s fast forward. That was last year. So this year, [Brown] is like, ‘Oh, I see that. Oh, is this what we do? So now I’m up. You know what I mean? I can’t do my eight takes? Oh, you throw the ball to those other people? Do you know what I’m saying?’ I won’t go into all the details because they are my boys. I’m not going to put all their stuff there. But he said, ‘Yo, you throw the ball to these other guys? OK, I’m hot. Dude, I’m hurt. I’m not going in.'”

McCoy ultimately disagreed with Brown’s handling of the situation, but he understood what had led to his frustration.

“I don’t respect how [Brown] reacted because it’s not the right way,” McCoy said. “You have to conduct yourself like a professional. … [Brown] was unprofessional about it. But I’ve been where the coach tries to play you, and he still thinks he’s that superstar. And he’s always nice. He’s no longer the superstar he used to be because of his roles.”

In 15 games with the Buccaneers, Brown had 87 receptions for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns. In a statement released by his lawyer, Brown said he plans to have ankle surgery and play again next season.

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