Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown Generating Interest; Latest On Grievance

Wide receiver is one of the most coveted positions during the run-up to this year’s trade deadline, but with A.J. Green seemingly off the market, and given the uncertain availability of other big names like Emmanuel Sanders, WR-needy teams that are unable to swing a trade prior to October 29 may turn to another option.

Indeed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says a number of teams are keeping a close eye on Antonio Brown, and his name has come up in internal personnel meetings. Once the trade deadline passes, La Canfora’s sources expect interest in Brown to further intensify.

Of course, the league has not yet interviewed Brown regarding the sexual assault/rape allegations that have been made against him, and if he were to sign with a team, the league will reportedly put him on the commissioner’s exempt list until the interview takes place. On the other hand, his signing may trigger the NFL to hold that interview and make a disciplinary decision, because it doesn’t want to look like it’s deliberately dragging its feet just to delay Brown’s return to the field. The last we heard, Brown prefers to wait until he is cleared by the league to sign, but he may have to force the issue.

Obviously, a Brown signing would need to be green-lighted by team ownership, which is not going to be an easy sell. But all it takes is one owner to pull the trigger.

In other Brown news, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports that AB’s grievance against the Raiders has taken a major hit (Twitter link). Brown is seeking to recoup $30MM in guaranteed money from Oakland, but in the discovery phase of the grievance, the Raiders submitted multiple text messages from Brown to owner Mark Davis asking for his release. That will certainly not help Brown’s cause.

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Latest On WR Antonio Brown

Earlier this week, one of our website’s headlines read “Antonio Brown To Patriots: Let Me Play.” Brown has apparently changed his stance to include the entirety of the NFL, not just New England. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that Brown and his camp want to resolve his off-the-field issues ASAP in an attempt to get him back on the field.

Specifically, Brown wants to have clarity on his playing status within the next few weeks so he can sign with an NFL team. The wideout will wait to sign until he’s officially cleared, and he’s been working out as he prepares for his next opportunity. While the embattled wideout would welcome a return to New England, he’s mostly just interested in finding another gig. Earlier today, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explained why a Patriots reunion was unlikely.

This reports seems to contradict Brown’s previous announcement that he was done with the NFL, although he’s seemingly walked back those claims in recent weeks. Agent Drew Rosenhaus has continually insisted that Brown wants to play and that teams are interested, pending the league’s investigation into the assault allegations. No teams have definitively been connected to Brown since he was cut by New England.

The NFL continues to investigate Brown under its personal conduct policy, although the league has yet to interview the receiver. The NFL previously announced that Brown wouldn’t be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list as long as he’s a free agent. Meanwhile, Brown’s camp is fighting a series of financial battles against the Raiders and Patriots. In total, Brown is seeking roughly $40MM in unpaid salary and bonuses.

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Extra Points: Gronk, Patriots, WRs, Draft

Rob Gronkowski debuted as a FOX analyst Thursday night, but his former job continues to come up. Robert Kraft has yet to give up hope on the future Hall of Fame tight end returning to the Patriots.

We all love Gronk, and I think the bottom line is he hasn’t put his retirement papers in,” Kraft said during an NFL Network appearance (Twitter link). “We can always pray and hope …. That’s a good academic argument that there is hope for us still with Gronk.”

The 30-year-old New England icon has continually denied he wants to come out of retirement but refuses to completely slam the door on a possible 10th season. Gronkowski said during his intro FOX broadcast he will “always keep the door open” for a Pats return. He said in August he was healthy enough to play. The team lost Josh Gordon in the first half of tonight’s game, and although it does not seem like the injury is serious — Gordon is questionable to return — the Pats’ offense is not as well-rounded as it was when Gronk created constant mismatches.

Here is the latest from around the league and the 2020 draft:

  • The Patriots’ high-profile attempt at bringing in a Gronk-level talent ended with Antonio Brown‘s release after 11 days. Brown remains accused of sexual misconduct by two women. The first, Britney Taylor, refiled her civil suit against the unemployed wide receiver in Florida state court, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Taylor’s attorneys categorize this as a strategic move and indicated new counsel has joined the case. A league investigation is ongoing as well. No team has been closely connected to the 31-year-old superstar since the Patriots cut him last month.
  • As for elite wideouts still in the league, evaluators shared some interesting views in a piece by The Athletic similar to its quarterback-tiers arrangement. Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill join Julio Jones on the top tier here, with NFL personnel viewing DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas as high-second-tier talents (subscription required). Hopkins’ penchant for contested catches prompted one OC to indicate the fear factor surrounding the Texans wideout is not the same as it is when game-planning for Jones or Beckham.
  • Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is set to miss all of his junior season because of a knee injury, but the might-have-been first-round talent still has NFL supporters should he declare for the 2020 draft. A group of NFL evaluators view Moses as being a second- or third-round prospect in 2020, Mike Rodak of al.com notes. Moses would be one of many Crimson Tide draftees in the 2020 draft, should he declare, with ESPN.com’s Todd McShay ranking six Alabama standouts in his top 30.

Antonio Brown To Patriots: Let Me Play

Antonio Brown took to Instagram on Wednesday to address the Patriots. His message: “Tell them to call me. They still gotta pay me, so might as well let me earn it.” (video via Michael Hurley of WBZ). 

Given the circumstances surrounding Brown and the Patriots’ undefeated record without Brown, a reunion seems incredibly unlikely. At this point, it’s unclear as to whether any other NFL team would consider signing the wide receiver.

While Brown petitions the Patriots to put him back on the field, he’s fighting a series of financial battles against the Raiders and Patriots. In total, Brown is seeking roughly $40MM in unpaid salary and bonuses. His grievances are unlikely to be heard until the spring. Reportedly, AB has a good chance of recouping his $9MM signing bonus from the Pats, but the rest is pretty iffy.

In recent weeks, Brown has threatened retirement and has wavered about his desire to continue playing. For what it’s worth, agent Drew Rosenhaus insists that Brown wants to play and that teams are interested, pending the league’s investigation into the assault allegations.

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Antonio Brown Files Grievances Against Raiders, Patriots

It was an inevitably, but free agent wideout Antonio Brown has now filed his much-discussed grievances against the Raiders and Patriots, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. We learned last week that Brown could be filing the following grievances:

• Fine appeals with the Raiders: $215K

• Salary guarantees with the Raiders : $29MM

• Signing bonus with the Raiders: $1MM

• Unpaid Week 1 salary from the Raiders: $860K

• Salary guarantees with the Patriots: $1MM

• Signing bonus with the Patriots: $9MM

• Unpaid Week 3 salary from the Patriots: $64K

• 2020 option year with the Patriots: $20MM

Rapoport confirms that all of the above grievances have been filed except the one concerning the 2020 option year with the Patriots, which felt like a major longshot anyway. In sum, Brown is seeking roughly $40MM in unpaid salary and bonuses.

However, Brown’s grievances are unlikely to be heard until the spring. Recent reports have suggested that AB stands a good chance of recouping the $9MM signing bonus from New England, but he could have a tough time recovering most of the other amounts.

We heard earlier this week that the NFL has yet to interview Brown concerning the sexual assault/rape allegations levied against him, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk — while acknowledging that Brown does not merit any sympathy — says the NFL could be deliberately slow-playing the situation to keep Brown out of the league. After all, no team will sign Brown while the league continues to stay silent as to whether the embattled wideout is destined for the commissioner’s exempt list, and the league doesn’t really have to say anything until its investigation is concluded (the last step of which is the interview with Brown). That’s not a violation of the collusion provisions of the CBA, but it is a convenient loophole.

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Extra Points: Mack, AB, Ramsey, Kessler

The Bears are set to face off against the Raiders in London this weekend, which means Khalil Mack will have his first chance to play against his former team. The linebacker told reporters today that he actually envisioned playing for the Raiders for his entire career.

“That’s the expectation when you get drafted to a team: You want to be there for the long haul and bring championships and all those good things,” Mack said (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson). “It’s the business side of it that doesn’t really let you do that.”

Mack spent the first four seasons of his career with Oakland, but the Raiders put him on the block when the two sides couldn’t agree to a long-term selection. The Bears swooped in and ended up signing four-time Pro Bowler to a deal that included $90MM in guaranteed money. Mack rewarded his new team by compiling 47 tackles and 12.5 sacks in 14 games.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • As the NFL continues to investigate Antonio Brown for alleged sexual assault, the wide receiver still hasn’t met with the league, tweets ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. Considering the Pro Bowl receiver is currently a free agent, Fowler notes that it’s “unclear how cooperative he plans or needs to be.” As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, it’s likely that no team would sign Brown until the NFL’s investigation is complete, meaning the wideout could be forced to cooperate if he wants to play again.
  • Peter King of Football Morning in America writes that the Chargers might get into the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes. The writer believes adding a top defensive player would be a savvy move as the organization prepares for a new stadium in 2020. King adds that he “still think[s]” that the Chiefs and Ravens are also involved in talks with the Jaguars. We heard earlier this week that the Jaguars rejected a trade that would have netted them a pair of late first-rounders.
  • Yesterday, the Eagles acquired linebacker Duke Riley and a sixth-round choice from the Falcons in exchange for safety Johnathan Cyprien and a seventh-round pick. SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan tweets that the seventh rounder is actually the Buccaneers’ selection. The Eagles originally acquired the pick in the offseason trade that brought DeSean Jackson back to Philly.
  • Quarterback Cody Kessler signed a minimum contract with the Patriots, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. This means he’ll earn a prorated $720K salary (a bit less than $593K for the rest of the season) with no guaranteed money and a $448K “injury split.” This essentially means the Patriots can evaluate Kessler’s spot on the roster on a week-by-week basis.

Antonio Brown To File Up To Nine Grievances/Appeals

The Antonio Brown news machine keeps chugging along. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Brown is poised to file up to nine grievances/appeals, which would be a league-record number of filings generated from one season for one player (though as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets, no grievance has been filed yet).

Schefter helpfully summarizes the potential filings as follows:

• Fine appeals with the Raiders: $215K

• Salary guarantees with the Raiders : $29MM

• Signing bonus with the Raiders: $1MM

• Unpaid Week 1 salary from the Raiders: $860K

• Salary guarantees with the Patriots: $1MM

• Signing bonus with the Patriots: $9MM

• Unpaid Week 3 salary from the Patriots: $64K

• 2020 option year with the Patriots: $20MM

• Potential appeal of NFL suspension

The consensus seems to be that Brown is likely to win his grievance against the Patriots for the $9MM signing bonus. However, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports confirms, that matter will probably not be resolved until 2020.

The NFL’s investigation into accusations of sexual assault/misconduct levied against Brown by two different women is ongoing. Despite reports that teams remain interested in Brown — reports championed by Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus — Brown himself has indicated that he is done with the NFL, and he recently enrolled in online classes at Central Michigan University.

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Antonio Brown Likely To Win Grievance Against Patriots?

While Antonio Brown is looking at an uphill battle if he wants to play football again in 2019, it does seem like he at least has a good chance to recoup some of the money he lost in his various releases.

The “consensus” of five different league sources is that the Patriots will eventually have to pay Brown the $9MM signing bonus they chose to withhold from him, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. It doesn’t sound like they’ll have to fork over the cash anytime soon though, as Robinson’s sources expect Patriots owner Robert Kraft will have to pay out “deep into the 2020 calendar, after an exhaustive arbitration grievance.”

One source took a particularly strong stance, saying “[New England] 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. 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.”

It seems like Brown is likely to get back $9MM from New England, and he isn’t going to stop there. We heard just yesterday that Brown was looking to pursue a grievance against the Raiders, although he might have a more difficult time getting money back from Oakland due to his repeated antics during his time as a Raider. The Patriots didn’t cut Brown after sexual assault allegations became public and allowed him to play in their Week 2 win over the Dolphins, which will make it hard for them to argue they released Brown because of information they weren’t aware of.

Although the star receiver has threatened retirement and has gone back and forth on Twitter about whether or not he wants to continue playing, his agent insists that he does and that teams are interested pending the league’s investigation into the assault allegations. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear any new developments on the grievance.

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Antonio Brown Moving Toward Grievance Against Raiders?

Antonio Brown looks likely to be in for two grievance battles. The now-twice-released wide receiver unloaded on Patriots owner Robert Kraft last week, and a grievance is expected against that organization. However, the NFLPA is going through scenarios regarding a grievance against the Raiders, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The Raiders were the first team to void Brown guarantees, doing so hours before releasing the mercurial superstar. Among the items being considered for a grievance against the Raiders on Brown’s behalf: his 2019 and ’20 base salaries ($14.625MM and $14.5MM, respectively), an unpaid Week 1 salary, three fines levied against him and a $1MM signing bonus, per Fowler.

The NFLPA has yet to file this grievance, and as will be the case in a battle against the Patriots, Brown’s actions while in Oakland — highlighted by missed practices over multiple issues and a confrontation with GM Mike Mayock — will make it a more challenging effort to recoup a significant amount of cash. The $1MM signing bonus may be Brown’s best chance at seeing a seven-figure payment from the Raiders. Brown racked up $215K in fines while with the Silver and Black.

There was offset language in Brown’s Raiders contract, meaning his $10MM Patriots deal would have stood to minimize the Raiders’ commitment. However, with the Pats also voiding Brown’s money, this has become quite the murky situation. The All-Pro talent received nearly $40MM in guarantees from two franchises this year; he has a chance to walk away with very little of that money.

Currently a free agent, Brown has ranged from quitting the NFL altogether to re-enrolling at Central Michigan to suddenly wanting back in the league. Drew Rosenhaus indicated teams are “very interested” in signing Brown, despite an unbelievable run of drama this year, but considering Brown faces multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, it does not appear likely he will play again anytime soon.

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Latest On Antonio Brown, Patriots

The Patriots’ decision to end Antonio Brown‘s stay after 11 days may not have been as unanimous as originally reported. Robert Kraft led the charge for the Patriots to jettison the embattled wide receiver, and while Bill Belichick went along with it, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes the 20th-year Pats HC probably would have retained Brown had Kraft not insisted he be released.

Kraft has not been known to intervene in personnel matters, with Curran adding this is believed to be the first time (though, Kraft was reported to have played a role in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade process — something the owner denied). Tom Brady was not on board with Kraft’s decision to cut Brown, Curran adds, noting the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s practice work with the four-time All-Pro was nearly flawless and that Brown’s talent was “beyond anything Brady ever worked with.”

Kraft was reportedly “enraged” upon learning of Brown’s text messages to his second accuser, and it led to the team cutting ties with the perennial Pro Bowler. This led to a mostly deleted Brown Sunday-morning tweetstorm, with the disgruntled receiver referencing Kraft’s involvement in the reported prostitution sting. The Brown saga will still include the Patriots going forward, considering an NFLPA-backed grievance centered around his $9MM signing bonus is likely forthcoming.

While the Patriots will face an obstacle in keeping that $9MM off their books because they deployed Brown in Week 2 after learning of the civil suit filed against him (per Albert Breer of SI.com, on Twitter), the organization will be in line to lean on the contract’s morals clause as well as language indicating Brown’s failure to disclose “any situations that may prevent continued availability” in this upcoming battle. The NFLPA will likely argue that CBA language requires a higher standard to void signing bonus money and would supersede these team-implemented clauses, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry writes.

The Pats are set to carry $5.75MM on their 2019 cap because of this process, with Corry adding a grievance likely will not be settled until 2020. A $4.5MM cap credit would come the Pats’ way, in addition to Brown’s $4.75MM 2020 charge being removed from New England’s books, should the team prevail in the grievance.

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