Antonio Brown is likely with the New England Patriots for this season, with the team likely still on the hook for at least his upcoming roster bonus. Allegations on Wednesday alleging that Brown raped his former personal trainer likely won’t change the money owed to the star wide receiver.
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On his third team this year, Brown signed a contract with the Patriots after being dumped by the Oakland Raiders over the weekend. Brown’s deal was made official on Monday, with a $5 million roster bonus due two weeks after the signing of his contract.
And with Brown possibly facing the commissioner’s exempt list, he likely is still going to be owed that roster bonus. Noted sports legal analyst and attorney Andrew Brandt said that being on the exempt list “is a paid status that doesn’t permit a player from playing.”
He likened the list to “paid leave.” But there is an option available to the Patriots, with Brandt musing that the franchise might simply not pay the bonus rather than pay it and then try to recoup.
“To be compliant with the contract, the Patriots should pay that money within the next  days. My thought was that if somehow things went south after the next two weeks and they try to get money back – I mean trying to recover money from Antonio Brown can be a long and involved process. So maybe they put the onus on him to file a grievance to get that money,” Brandt told FOX Business.
“I don’t know if that is something they would do, just throwing out that possibility and wait to see if the NFL puts him on an exempt list.”
Brandt added that if the Patriots do withhold the looming bonus payment “that Antonio Brown has a good case” to go after the money. Either way, Brandt thinks the Patriots are likely to wait till the last minute to pay out the extra money.
Coincidentally, another $4 million of a bonus is owed in January.
Reports on Wednesday night indicated that the Patriots have a morality clause in their contract with Brown, something that on the surface sounds good but might be difficult to enforce. Especially since the allegations in the civil suit filed by his trainer happened before he joined New England, even if the litigation unrolled this week.
Either way, it appears that the Patriots are ready to roll with the troubled wide receiver. Brown was unceremoniously traded by the Steelers this spring and then cut by the Raiders following an alleged physical altercation with General Manager Mike Mayock.
Amid the distractions, Brown practiced with the Patriots on Wednesday.
“Whether the allegations impact his guarantee depends on the way that the Patriots have written the guarantee. Would they turn away from Brown because of this and cut him? Unlikely,” NFL agent Leigh Steinberg told FOX Business. Steinberg has represented the likes of Troy Aikman and Steve Young and was supposedly rumored to be the inspiration behind the movie Jerry Maguire.
He thinks Brown might have a sequel in New England as the franchise is known to not readily quit on talent. And the Pro Bowl wide receiver is certainly talented.
Steinberg said that Brown “is ideal for their system.”
“He is one of the two or three most talented wide receivers in the game and they signed him knowing he had problems getting along in Pittsburgh and acted out with the Raiders,” Steinberg said. “There are people speculating that he never wanted to go to the Raiders when the trade was made, he wanted to go to the Patriots and perhaps acted in a way that would make the Raiders have to cut him so he could get to the Patriots.”