Soon after the news surfaced of the sexual assault and rape lawsuit filed against Antonio Brown, it was reported the Patriots were "caught by surprise."

Now, there's a valid reason for why they likely were unaware of the allegations against their newly-acquired wide receiver.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on Thursday there was a confidentiality agreement between Brown and the plaintiff in the case, Britney Taylor, until the civil lawsuit was filed. So unless that agreement was breached upon joining the Patriots, the organization could not have known.

Fowler writes:

"Representatives for New England Patriots receiver Antonio Brown and Britney Taylor were in discussions over the past few months, but agreed their communication would remain confidential until the filing of Taylor's civil sexual assault lawsuit, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

"This, the sources say, is why the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, who released Brown last weekend, would not have known about the matter unless there was a breach in the confidentiality of those discussions."

As of Thursday, the NFL reportedly has not indicated anything to the Patriots about possible discipline for Brown. The 31-year-old has been practicing with the Patriots this week as if he will suit up in Sunday's game against the Dolphins.


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