Patriots’ Release Of Antonio Brown Was Fast, Swift, Still Surprising

Antonio Brown did this to himself. Don’t let anyone lead you to believe the New England Patriots’ decision to release the talented but troubled wide receiver was the fault of the team, the media or the NFL.

This was no conspiracy against the Patriots. There’s no reason to defend the wall. Stand down.

Brown can’t help himself. Brown didn’t need to leak text messages Wednesday between he and a doctor who had filed a civil lawsuit against the receiver. It was idiotic of Brown to send threatening text messages to a woman who had accused the wide receiver of sexual misconduct. He said all the right things Thursday in his first meeting with the media while still causing controversy and distractions while he was away from Gillette Stadium.

Someone needed to take Brown’s phone and throw it at a wall, then maybe his tenure in New England would have lasted more than 11 days.

Still, it’s slightly surprising the Patriots cut bait Friday, though perhaps we should have seen the signs throughout the afternoon.

First, the Patriots owed their first installment of Brown’s $9 million signing bonus on Monday. If the Patriots were going to make a move, it was probably going to have to come before Week 3 to recoup some or most of what they owed him.

Bill Belichick was softer about the receiver Friday than he was last Wednesday. This quote sticks out:

“We take all the situations with our team seriously and there are some things that we’re looking into.”

He wasn’t placing responsibility on the NFL to make a decision. He said the Patriots would look into the matter.

He also showed frustration with the situation by walking out of his press conference early after only being asked questions about the wide receiver.

Quarterback Tom Brady was asked five questions about Brown on Friday. He didn’t reference the receiver a single time in his answers. He was focused on himself, his performance, being a better teammate and Sunday’s opponent, the New York Jets.

That was unusual for Brady, who had been willing to talk about Brown in the past.

But this was the same team who kept Brown even after he was accused of rape and sexual assault in a civil lawsuit despite the team reportedly being left in the dark about the matter when they signed him. They played him in Week 2 despite the allegations. They let him practice Friday. It seemed the Patriots were going to wait until the NFL stepped in and either suspended the wide receiver or placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Clearly, that wasn’t the case. Perhaps they viewed the civil lawsuit differently than his latest transgression. The original allegations stemmed from Brown’s time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown sent those intimidating text messages while he was a member of the Patriots.

A source familiar with the situation predicted the Patriots couldn’t handle Brown after he signed nearly two weeks ago. We thought if any team could do it, the Patriots could pull off a minor miracle and keep Brown in check. We were wrong.

Brown never played a game with the Raiders and only spent five months with Oakland. The Patriots at least got a game out of him, but this stint in New England was significantly shorter.

It seems unlikely another team will sign Brown before the NFL wraps up its investigation into the receiver’s misconduct. If another team does give him a chance, which is no guarantee, he’ll need to adjust his behavior to last more than a game.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images