FOXBORO — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not discuss the acquisition of four-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown on Monday, but other members of the Patriots admitted their excitement about adding Brown to the mix.
Brown was at Gillette Stadium on Monday as he officially signed his new contract, but he did not have a locker assigned to him. The Patriots released safety Obi Melifonwu, a Grafton native, to make room for Brown, who is expected to sign a one-year deal worth up to $15 million with $10 million in guarantees and a team option for next year.
“He’s an elite receiver,” safety Duron Harmon said of Brown, following the Patriots’ 33-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
“We don’t really say that word too much,” Harmon added. “He does it all. He can run deep, he can run intermediate routes, he can run low routes, he’s quick, he’s fast. You can literally line up in every position and he produces.
“I think one of the things that’s even more special about him is that he produces when teams are double teaming him. I mean, usually you double team a guy and he’s canceled, but he’s found ways that continue to be productive guarding against a double team and I’m looking forward to being his teammate.”
Quarterback Tom Brady, who threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night without Brown, is looking forward to his new weapon as well.
“I think everybody’s excited to add great players,” Brady said. “It helps everybody when you have great players that are sharing the burden of a tough football season. I think, like anything else, whether it was Josh (Gordon) last year or Phillip (Dorsett) when he got here a few years ago late, and then this year Antonio (Brown), how much can you learn and process and get in here? And we’re all going to work hard and try to get up to speed as fast as possible.”
With Brown, the Patriots can trot out a three-receiver set of Gordon, Julian Edelman and Brown while Dorsett, who led the team with four receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns Week One, gives the team a solid fourth option along with Demaryius Thomas, who was inactive against Pittsburgh.
“It could be really good,” Edelman said of the group. “He’s an explosive player and we’re happy to have him. The more playmakers you have out there, the better things can go.”
Of course, the talent is not the lone aspect in play here. Brown has had eight or more touchdowns and 1,200 or more receiving yards in each of the past six seasons.
He’s also posted six Instagram posts since the Patriots acquired him. In the past, Brown has brought drama wherever he goes. The Patriots are his third team in the last seven months.
But those in the locker room seem confident Brown will fit in.
“Hey man, everybody is a little different. Everybody has their own personality,” Harmon said. “The thing is, this is such a place that is big on camaraderie — everybody being (there) for each other, everybody sacrificing and everybody just putting the team first.
“I think when he walks in the building and he sees that, I mean it’s just hard to do anything else and do anything different,” Harmon said. “Everybody’s asking like is he going to ... I think he’s going to be fine. I don’t want to speak for him. I don’t want to speak for anybody else. I mean, this is an easy place to just come here and fall in line and put the team first and do your job, catch footballs, and win football games. That’s what we’re looking to do.”
“I don’t think that’s going to be hard for him,” Dorsett said. “We have great camaraderie in the room, and we look forward to adding him to it. We know what he is. We know he’s a hard worker. And we know what we’re going to get. So, we just have to get him up to speed, and I feel like it could be great for us.”