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Bruce Arians noncommittal about Antonio Brown's future with Bucs after vaccine-related suspension

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Antonio Brown has one week left on his three-week suspension for violating the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.

Whether he'll play again for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remains unclear.

Head coach Bruce Arians was asked about Brown's status moving forward at his Monday news conference. He was noncommittal.

"I haven't made that determination yet, but we'll see how it goes," Arians said of Brown's future with the team. ... "When we know, we'll let everyone know."

Bruce Arians in 2020: 'He screws up one time, he’s gone'

The Bucs signed Brown in 2020 at the end of his eight-game suspension "for multiple violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy." Brown had a lengthy history of off-field transgressions when he signed with the Bucs, most notably multiple allegations of rape and sexual misconduct and a no-contest plea on a felony burglary conveyance charge. He re-signed with the Bucs during the offseason on a one-year deal.

Arians told Football Morning in America's Peter King after the Bucs signed Brown in 2020: "He screws up one time, he’s gone."

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 14: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown was having his best season in years prior to injury and suspension. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Brown's latest suspension landed after his former live-in chef Steven Ruiz accused him of paying to obtain a fake COVID-19 vaccine card in an effort to skirt the NFL's health and safety protocols. The NFL then conducted an investigation. The league didn't address Ruiz's claim directly, but confirmed that Brown, teammate Mike Edwards and ex-teammate John Franklin III "misrepresented their vaccination status" while handing down three-game bans for each player on Dec. 2.

Arians told reporters in September that 100% of the Bucs roster had been vaccinated against COVID-19 amid more stringent NFL health and safety protocols that opened the door to penalizing teams with outbreaks among unvaccinated players. Brown's and his teammates' suspensions bring that claim into question.

Per his suspension, Brown is eligible to return to practice after Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. He'd be eligible for playoffs and the final three weeks of the regular season starting with a Week 16 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

The Bucs are 10-3 and chasing the 10-2 Arizona Cardinals for the top seed in the NFC playoffs in an effort to claim a second straight Super Bowl victory. Prior to suffering an ankle injury in Week 6, Brown tallied 29 catches for 418 yards with four touchdown in five games, his best per-game production since he was a Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.