Patriots

Season Preview: Antonio Brown’s impending signing invites unknown variable into Patriots season

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I had this season prediction column all laid out in my mind ... and then the Patriots and Antonio Brown turned the NFL world on its head.

And everything changed. Or maybe it didn't. We don't know. The Patriots don't know.

(I also wouldn't be shocked if the NFL investigated this entire transaction, mostly the actions of Brown and agent Drew Rosenhaus, and the league would be justified in doing so. Something feels off about this, but that doesn't mean it was against the rules. If the NFL chooses to look into this, that would be fair and not part of some grand anti-Patriots conspiracy.)

That's the issue with bringing Brown into the fold. The most flatline and consistent organization in the history of professional sports, just invited one of the biggest unknown variables into its locker room.

This could either be spectacular, or it could be terrible. Or somewhere in between. Your guess is literally as good as mine, or Bill Belichick's. No one, not even the Great Hoodie. knows how this is going to go.

I have been on record for being in favor of this move. Don't mistake that for saying that it's going to work. I think it will, but I'm not sure. Brown is simply so talented that he's worth the risk if the Patriots covered their exposure in the contract. And I also believe the core of this Patriots team, rebuilt after the 2009-12 neglect, is strong enough to withstand a possible Brown implosion, which is always on the table.

But to say there is absolutely no risk in this move is patently false — not only if Brown did indeed get $9 million guaranteed, but also for on-field reasons. And, yes, that means signing Brown could possibly put another Super Bowl title at risk.

Here's how, and then we'll get into our season prediction and some thoughts on the Steelers game: