Sounds like Antonio Brown might be getting some of his guaranteed money after all.
The Patriots reportedly have no interest in paying Brown his $9 million signing bonus, citing the multiple sexual assault allegations levied against the embattled wide receiver. What makes things tricky for New England, however, is that the team kept him on its roster after learning of the allegations and even had him suit up in a Week 2 game against the Miami Dolphins, before releasing him just five days later.
A source with intimate knowledge of Brown's contract and the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement told Yahoo! Sports that the Patriots backed themselves into a corner by not immediately severing ties with Brown.
“[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,” the source told Yahoo’s Charles 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.”
Robinson also outlines the contract language the Patriots are attempting to use in avoiding payment to Brown. As he did not refuse to report, voluntarily retire, become incarcerated, or sustain a significant non-football injury, the Patriots have no recourse legally to avoid cutting Brown his check.
While Brown likely will fight the Patriots in arbitration regarding the money in question, the Oakland Raiders have a much more plausible case for denying Brown the $29.125 million he was guaranteed after being acquired in March.
It remains to be seen if Brown will file grievances against both of his brief employers, but there’s no doubt that he feels entitled to his “guaranteed” money.
It’s looking increasingly likely that he will get at least some of it, though not without a fight.
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