Brown, Edwards to rejoin Bucs this week, per GM

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Tampa, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards, who were each suspended three games after an NFL investigation found that they produced fake vaccination cards, will return to the team this week, according to general manager Jason Licht.

“We look forward to having them back with the team,” Licht said on the Buccaneers’ radio pregame show before Sunday night’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

Neither player will face further discipline from the team. The only potential repercussions for either player would be federal prosecution, as it is a third-degree felony to manufacture, possess or display a fake vaccination card.

Both players are fully vaccinated now, according to the league office.

Per the current CBA rules, both Brown and Edwards were permitted to work out away from the team at the Bucs’ facility over the past three weeks, ensuring their readiness for next Sunday’s game at the Carolina Panthers as Tampa Bay tries to lock up the top seed in the NFC.

Edwards led the Bucs with three interceptions prior to his suspension, including two pick-sixes. Tampa Bay has been hurting at safety, with Jordan Whitehead limited by a calf injury and Antoine Winfield Jr. dealing with a foot injury. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who has cross-trained at safety due to the high number of injuries at the position, has also been dealing with an Achilles injury.

Meanwhile, Brown’s replacement as the Bucs’ No. 3 receiver, Breshad Perriman, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive just before the Saints game. The Tampa Bay offense has managed to put up an average of 25.46 points in the 13 games Brown wasn’t on the field this season, compared to an average of 13.2 points in the five games he was on the field.

Arians had told Brown when he first signed with the Bucs in October 2020, “there will be no second chances,” and that was after Brown had already been suspended by the NFL for eight games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after he allegedly assaulted a delivery truck driver. Brown was also the subject of a civil lawsuit by his former trainer Britney Taylor, alleging sexual assault. The two settled out of court in April of 2021.

The Bucs’ motto last season was “beat the virus,” and many players and coaches attributed their Super Bowl LV win — at least in part — to the team’s adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, which was praised by President Joe Biden in the Bucs’ visit to the White House in July.

Arians also implemented his own stricter protocols for his team this season, including a mandate that all players and coaches must remain at the hotel while traveling regardless of vaccination status.

Arians said earlier this week that he didn’t want the decision about both players’ futures with the team to distract from Sunday night’s game, as the Bucs look to clinch the NFC South title for the first time since 2007.

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