Even if Antonio Brown never played for the Patriots, they would still owe him millions

Will Antonio Brown be on the move again? A new lawsuit alleging rape has some sports watchers speculating about the possibility of a departure from yet another NFL team. But even if that came to pass, the New England Patriots wide receiver would still likely be $9 million richer -- even if he didn't play one game for his new team.

In a civil lawsuit filed on Monday afternoon, Brown’s former trainer Britney Taylor alleges that he sexually assaulted and later raped her. The Patriots said Tuesday that the NFL planned to do its own investigation of the accusations against Brown.

The Patriots signed Brown this past weekend, scooping up the troubled star athlete after he had just been released by the Oakland Raiders. Were the Patriots to decide that the distraction that is Brown outweighs his Pro Bowl talent and waive the player, Brown is still likely pocketing a lot of money.

Andrew Brandt, a former executive with the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles, tweeted on Wednesday morning that Brown is owed $5 million of a bonus within two weeks of his signing with the Patriots. He is then owed another $4 million in January.

“The Patriots could try to withhold payment on the signing bonus, pending league investigation, knowing they will have a tough time getting money back once paid,” Brandt tweeted. “Brown could file a grievance over that, however, and likely win.”

Brown was released over this past weekend by the Raiders, following a tumultuous several months with the team. Acquired by the Raiders in an offseason trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers (where he had burned bridges with the organization), Brown’s time in the "Silver & Black" was marred by constant drama and an alleged physical altercation with general manager Mike Mayock.

The league will now decide whether to place Brown on paid leave (which would mean he cannot practice or play in games) via the commissioner’s exempt list pending the investigation, or allow him to play. The Patriots, known for running a tight ship, could also act preemptively and simply release the player. That pathway seems less likely, however, as the financial hit would be devastating.

Barring any new revelations – and it seems like every day there is another twist and turn to Brown’s season so far – the wide receiver is likely to get the bonus money owed to him by the Patriots. It is a point backed up by salary cap expert Jason Fitzgerald.  The noted salary cap expert and founder of OverTheCap.com underscored Brandt’s tweets on the matter.