NFL Teams
Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer 53d

Antonio Brown works out for Saints

NFL, New Orleans Saints

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints were doing their due diligence by working out embattled free-agent receiver Antonio Brown on Friday morning, said coach Sean Payton, who added that no signing is imminent.

"We're doing our homework," Payton said after the Saints brought in six receivers for the workout. "There would be a number of players that we've signed or drafted over the years past -- some that have worked out, some that haven't. The process is something that we take seriously and it's important relative to the makeup of the team."

Payton said the Saints would need to get clarity from the NFL on whether Brown would be eligible to play this postseason if he were to be signed by the Saints.

"That's the information that we've got to get from the league if we were to go down that road," Payton said. "And we don't have that yet."

Saints star receiver Michael Thomas had been limited in practice this week with a hand injury prior to being a full participant Friday. He has no injury designation for Sunday's game and is expected to play against the Carolina Panthers.

Sources suggested the workout was not related to Thomas' status.

The other receivers to work out for the Saints were former NFL players Tommylee Lewis (Saints), Travin Dural (Saints), Maurice Harris (Redskins), Tim White (Ravens) and Reggie Begelton of the Canadian Football League.

"Obviously there's a little bit more attention drawn to [Brown] because of his career. But right now, it was more or less us having a chance to get to know these guys and seeing what kind of shape they're all in," Payton said.

Brown, 31, is being investigated by the NFL under its personal conduct policy after a lawsuit filed by his former trainer, Britney Taylor, that alleges she was sexually assaulted by Brown on multiple occasions. Brown also was accused of sexual misconduct at his home by an artist who was working there in 2017.

Brown, who has denied the allegations, met with the NFL for eight hours last month in Florida as part of the investigation, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.

The NFL has not concluded that investigation and it is uncertain when it will. Even after it wraps, Brown still could face additional league-imposed discipline.

On Sept. 20, the NFL released a statement that said Brown would not be placed on the commissioner's exempt list while he is a free agent, but it warned, "If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. ... Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies."

Earlier this season, Payton said the Saints weren't interested in Brown, but he admitted Friday that he wasn't being entirely honest then

"I probably wasn't telling you the truth a few months ago," said Payton, who said he met Brown for the first time Friday. "But I think it's important that ... we've done this at other positions and we're looking closely all the time at, 'Who are the players available? How can they help us?' Especially as we get ready here for this postseason.

"So that was the purpose of today at the receiver position. We've done it really throughout the course of the season at other positions."

Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, accompanied his client on the visit and also met with Saints officials.

"Antonio had a very good visit today and we will continue our discussions with the Saints," Rosenhaus said.‬

Payton, who said he wouldn't consider resting his starters heading into Sunday's regular-season finale against the Panthers, wanted an updated receiver list for the playoffs in case any of the team's players went down.

The Saints (12-3) are projected to be the No. 3 seed in the NFC. But they can become the No. 1 seed if they win, the Green Bay Packers (12-3) lose at Detroit, and the San Francisco 49ers (12-3) lose at Seattle.

The Saints have been thin on proven wide receiver depth for the past two years. Thomas just set the NFL record for catches in a season with 145, but no other receiver on the team has more than 29 receptions. And the Saints just placed No. 4 receiver Krishawn Hogan on injured reserve this week.

Last year they signed both Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall late in the season, though Bryant got injured and Marshall was released soon after.

"Our front office knows what it's doing," Saints linebacker and team captain Demario Davis said. "They've done a good job in building a very strong team with a strong culture. We've got a very strong locker room. And everybody that steps into our locker room has always just added to it. We've got great chemistry, a great brotherhood, a great bond, great leadership. And I think that [contributes] to our success on the field. Everybody that they bring here is football-minded and championship-minded. And so if they bring him in, he's going to add to our locker room dynamic."

Payton and multiple veteran players said they feel great about the culture and chemistry they have developed in their locker room while winning three straight NFC South championships. So they feel comfortable that even a dynamic personality like Brown could fit.

"It would be great," veteran receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said. "The type of talent that he has matches what we have around here. As long as he wants to come in and win and be a team player, it's nothing that we can shy away from. He's a top guy in this league. He's been a top guy in this league. ... Bringing him in and putting him with a guy like Mike and the rest of us that's in that corps is a great situation."

The New England Patriots released Brown on Sept. 20, just 11 days after signing him. Two days later, Brown called out Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, comparing their legal issues to his own.

Brown has played in only one game this season -- Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins. He was released by the Oakland Raiders before the season and by the Patriots before Week 3, after it was made known that he sent text messages to the artist who had accused him of misconduct.

He has filed eight grievances against the Raiders and Patriots, a source told ESPN's Dan Graziano. Brown is seeking $39.775 million in lost salary, bonuses and guaranteed money.

^ Back to Top ^