"He's one of those guys that have befriended me," Brown said about TB12 during a radio hit Friday on The Mike Calta Show ... "One of my close friends around the NFL."
Of course, Tom was a big reason the Patriots signed Brown for the 2019 season -- though he was released after a bunch of horrible off the field issues.
But they've stayed close ... Brown says he shot a few texts Tom's way after the Bucs signing -- "I congratulated him, wished him well."
Remember, Tom even let Antonio stay in his house with Gisele when he first came to Foxborough -- will he make the same offer in TB??
There could be one big hurdle ... earlier this year, Arians pooh-pooh'd the idea of bringing Brown to TB back in January, saying AB was "too much diva" for him."
"I've heard so many stories -- I like Antonio -- he plays as hard as anybody on Sunday, and he practices hard. He's just gotta make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things," Arians said on The Adam Schefter Podcast.
AB, however, doesn't see any problems ... telling Mike Calta he feels he could work very well with Arians.
"I think when I played with him in Pittsburgh, man, I was averaging like 16 yards a catch," Brown said of Arians. "I think he like me. I think we had a lot of fun together, man."
Of course, Brown has a LOT of hurdles to jump over before the Bucs can even think about signing him ... AB is still under league investigation for multiple incidents -- including allegations he raped his former trainer. He was also arrested in January 2020 for assaulting a moving truck driver.
There's been no word yet on how the probe is going from Roger Goodell ... but Brown said of his football future Friday, "I'm just staying positive and seeing what opportunities are going to come my way once it's time for me to get back going."