Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver Antonio Brown was first sidelined with an ankle injury he originally suffered on Oct. 14 that kept him out through his three-game suspension in December, and he shockingly left the field during Sunday's win at the New York Jets after he reportedly claimed he was unable to continue playing because of his ankle.
According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brown has visited a "top surgeon" away from the Buccaneers and had an MRI confirm he's dealing with a legitimate injury:
Antonio Brown update below:— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 4, 2022
Antonio's friends were worried about the pain he was experiencing so they encouraged him to see a top surgeon outside the Bucs' organization. That visit and an MRI confirm his serious pain and that story is developing...
Antonio is known for having a high pain threshold but the belief is Antonio probably should've never been on the field to begin with Sunday. And official statement from Brown's camp will be issued soon. They have stayed quiet since Sunday.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 4, 2022
As Mike Florio explained for Pro Football Talk, Brown was listed as questionable for the Jets game after he didn’t practice Thursday or Friday because of the ankle. Head coach Bruce Arians told reporters after Sunday's victory that Brown "is no longer a Buc," but the franchise hadn't released the seven-time Pro Bowl selection as of Tuesday evening.
It was previously said the Buccaneers could look to suspend Brown for four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, but the 33-year-old may fight such a punishment and use information from a surgeon to prove he's carrying a real injury. However, one wonders if such an update could also allow Tampa Bay to put Brown on injured reserve, a move that would prevent him from signing with any other contender before or during the upcoming playoffs.