The New England Patriots released Antonio Brown on Friday after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct and Brown reportedly sent her intimidating text messages in response to her story going public, according to Robert Klemko of SI.com.
"The decision to release Brown was led by owner Robert Kraft, sources say, sparked by the text messages that came to light Friday and by the thought that the end was not near. Several players privately voiced their displeasure that the move was made, as Brown had made a positive impression on teammates in a short time. He did things in practice no one else could do.
"When Brown first landed in New England, he signed a contract with $10 million guaranteed—$9 million in a signing bonus. While he earned two game checks, the first check for $5 million of his signing bonus was due Monday, Sept. 23. The belief from all parties is that the Patriots will not cut the check, withholding the money instead and forcing Brown to file a grievance for money he believes was fully guaranteed."
That will likely cause a fight in court, with Brown seeking to retrieve $10 million in guarantees. As Rapoport added, the Patriots will likely counterclaim that Brown didn't disclose his settlement talks with his first accuser when he signed his contract and that they tied "the signing bonus language to forfeiture language."
They'll likely argue they never would have signed him had he been forthcoming on the accusations, especially since he could be facing discipline from the NFL that could affect his ability to play this season.
Brown tweeted Sunday morning about cases surrounding Kraft and also on Shannon Sharpe and Ben Roethlisberger. Shortly after those tweets surfaced, ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing one NFL source, reported that “Kraft [is] never writing that check, no matter what the ruling is now.”
Brown appeared in one game for the Patriots, catching four passes for 56 yards and a score.
The NFL is conducting its own investigation and has interviewed both of his accusers—the second of whom requested anonymity—though Rapoport noted that Brown won't be placed on the commissioner's exempt list while he's a free agent.
Whether another team signs him will likely depend on the findings of that investigation or whether criminal charges are brought against him:
Brown might resurface with another team, but until the NFL concludes its investigation, he'll likely remain in limbo.