The New England Patriots’ efforts to avoid paying wide receiver Antonio Brown his $9 million signing bonus are unlikely to succeed, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson this week.
Robinson’s five sources, described as “familiar with Brown’s now-voided Patriots deal and all having extensive experience with the overlap between NFL contracts and the league’s collective-bargaining agreement,” all agreed New England likely will be required to pay Brown his bonus, though that payout might not come until late next year after a lengthy arbitration process.
“(The Patriots) fighting to keep that signing bonus now is either a gross misunderstanding of (the CBA’s) rules on voiding signing bonuses or it’s just out of spite,” one source told Robinson. “I can’t believe they don’t understand the signing bonus voids in the CBA. There’s just no way. This is just spitefulness. They’re fighting (Brown) completely out of the anger and embarrassment in ownership.”
The prevailing argument for withholding Brown’s bonus is that he, according to the Patriots, did not inform the team of his pending civil lawsuit before they signed him. Robinson’s sources, however, believe New England gave up this right after choosing to play Brown against the Miami Dolphins after learning about the suit and the sexual assault allegations contained therein.
From one of Robinson’s sources:
“If they had cut (Brown) as soon as they became aware of the civil suit, then there’s the argument of the (withholding) breach undermining the entire agreement. But they kept him on the roster after that lawsuit was filed. They played him in a game. They even paid him checks for (two weeks of) work. If the civil suit was a true dealbreaker, the Patriots could have shown it by breaking the deal. Their actions speak to their intent and their intent was shown when they continued to pay him after the civil suit.”
The Patriots cut Brown last Friday, closing the book the wideout’s brief, 11-day tenure in Foxboro, then refused to pay the initial $5 million installment of his signing bonus that was scheduled for Monday. In the interim, Brown publicly bashed Robert Kraft, referencing the Patriots owner’s Orchids of Asia scandal in a since-deleted tweet.
This financial battle is unlikely to end any time soon.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images