The New England Patriots have released embattled six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown less than two weeks after signing him.
Brown broke the news himself on Twitter, thanking the New England organization for the opportunity.
The Patriots followed suit by releasing a statement of their own following the move.
“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown,” the franchise said in a statement. “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.”
This comes amid allegations of both sexual assault and sexual harassment. Brown was originally released by the Oakland Raiders earlier in August after a drama-filled short tenure with the organization.
A couple days later, Brown’s former trainer accused him of three different instances of sexual assault spanning 2017 and 2018. Said allegations were made public record in a federal lawsuit against Brown on Sep. 10.
It was earlier this week that yet another woman accused Brown of sexual misconduct in a lengthy Sports Illustrated piece. New information regarding the alleged incident came to the forefront late Thursday evening when Robert Klemko of SI reported that Brown had sent the accuser “menacing” group text messages.
Earlier on Friday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick cut his Week 3 press conference short ahead of his team’s game against the New York Jets. Belichick was done answering questions about Mr. Brown. He’s now obviously done with Brown completely.
All the while, the NFL was said to be investigating the above-mentioned text messages at the time of Brown’s release. This came mere days after league officials met with the alleged sexual assault victim, Britney Taylor.
The backdrop here is that Brown will not face criminal charges stemming from two of the allegations because of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations standards, which indicate that a criminal complaint can’t be filed two years after the alleged incident(s).
None of this means Brown is free from punishment as it relates to the NFL. The Commissioner’s Exempt List was seemingly a possibility ahead of Brown’s release. Remember, the league operates independant of the American justice system. Criminal charges don’t need to be filed for a player to be disciplined. Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys is the most-recent example of this.
Brown, 31, signed a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Patriots after being released by Oakland. The Patriots will obviously look to get out of the guarantees in said deal, claiming conduct detrimental to the team.
That’s exactly what the Raiders did when they released Brown, voiding $30 million in guarantees in the process.
As it relates to any potential future in the NFL, no team is going to show interest in his services until the civil and legal processes play out. It would be a major PR hit, as the Patriots realized over the past several days.
Despite this, Brown’s agent did release a statement indicating that the embattled receiver wants to resume his career here soon.
There’s going to be a whole lot more to this story in the coming hours and days. For now, the Patriots have rid themselves of Brown.
He’s now back on the street looking to find employment less than two weeks after sigining with the defending champs.