Antonio Brown released by Patriots amid NFL investigation into sexual assault allegations

The New England Patriots on Friday released embattled wide receiver Antonio Brown after just one game following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct that triggered an NFL investigation.

“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time,” the team said in a statement.

Brown signed a one-year, $15 million contract with the Patriots that included $9 million guaranteed. The bonus was due in two installments -- a $5 million payment on Monday and a $4 million payment on Jan. 15, 2020. It’s unclear if the Patriots will attempt to withhold the payments.

Brown's former personal trainer filed a civil lawsuit on Sept. 10 accusing the NFL star of multiple instances of sexual assault and rape during encounters in 2017 and 2018. The NFL launched an immediate investigation into the trainer's allegations and met with her for several hours earlier this year. The league has yet to make a determination on the case.

Days later, an unnamed artist accused Brown of exposing himself to her while she worked on a mural he had commissioned at his Pittsburgh-area home in 2017, Sports Illustrated reported. On Thursday, the artist's attorneys accused Brown of sending her several threatening text messages, including photos of her children. The attorneys released a letter from Patriots officials ordering Brown to cease all communications with the artist.

The allegations cost Brown at least two endorsement deals, including a lucrative partnership with Nike. He has denied wrongdoing through his attorney, Darren Heitner.

Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in his lone game for the Patriots.