'Optimism' Antonio Brown could return this season, Mike Florio says

Josh Schrock

Like a bad cold, the Antonio Brown saga just won't go away.

The former Raiders and Patriots receiver has been unemployed for the last nine weeks, with teams scared to sign him just to see the NFL suspend him over sexual assault allegations the moment he puts pen to paper. Brown recently met with the NFL as the league continues its investigation, and the receiver recently apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, leading many to believe a return to the wideout-starved Patriots could be in the cards.

Most assume Brown won't play in the NFL this season, especially if the four-time All-Pro continues to go from apologetic to vindictive and back on social media depending on which way the wind blows. That, however, might not be the case, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio.

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"There's optimism on Brown's part that things went well enough last Thursday that he could be reinstated by the end of the season," Florio said Wednesday on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "The prevailing view had been the NFL was going to kick the can through the end of the season, let him play next year. If they decide to suspend him, maybe give him credit for time served because for a practical matter he's been suspended without pay for nine weeks because no one will touch him while this league investigation is pending. But, there is some optimism that he will have a chance to get back in. 

"That is what sparked really for me fascination. You throw this guy in the pool of available players with two or three weeks left in the regular season, just as an example, think about the land rush playoff teams would potentially engage (in with) him because not only do you help yourself by getting him, you help yourself by keeping him from signing with someone you're going to have to deal with in January, which gives you even more reason to get him under contract, if and when he's eligible to be signed."

Brown, always one to be on social media, posted a video to Twitter on Thursday of himself working out in a Raiders helmet because we know how much he loves the Schutt AiR Advantage lid.

While Brown isn't suspended or on the Commissioner's Exempt List, the specter of that has hung over him ever since the Patriots cut him prior to Week 3. If the NFL were to clear him and OK to return, there's no telling how many teams would be willing to give him yet another chance. 

The Seahawks showed interest in Brown after the Raiders cut him, and some have suggested the 49ers would be a good landing spot for him should he become available. It seems like a return to the Patriots also could be in the cards, as Tom Brady and Co. have struggled offensively with the injuries to their receiving corps.

[RELATED: Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' NFL journey amid inactive stretch]

Could business be boomin' again soon?

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'Optimism' Antonio Brown could return this season, Mike Florio says originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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