Antonio Brown is no longer a Patriot, but that doesn’t mean the saga between the two parties is over.
The Patriots still owe him money, but it’s unclear whether they’ll end up paying him the leftover amount.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Sept. 9 that the Patriots’ initial deal with Brown featured a $9 million signing bonus – including $5 million this Monday and $4 million later.
#Patriots deal with Antonio Brown: $1M fully guaranteed base, $9M signing bonus ($5M now, $4M later), $500K in 46-man roster bonuses & NLTBE incentives of $1.5M for each of these — 105 catches, 1,298 yds, 16 TDs. Total: $15M. Plus a $20M option that’s guaranteed if picked up
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2019
New England was scheduled to pay the first part of his signing bonus by Monday, Sept. 23, but the team reportedly chose not to do so, believing that language in his contract will prove that they do not owe it to him.
The Patriots, as you may have gathered, did not pay Brown the $5m first installment of his $9m signing bonus which was due Monday.
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) September 22, 2019
Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Breer noted that the language in Brown’s contract is specific. If Brown “takes any action that materially undermines the public’s respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, Player’s teammates or the club’s ownership, coaches, management, operations or policies then, upon election of the Club, the guarantees set forth in this Section 27 will be null and void, whether or not any such guarantee otherwise had been earned in accordance with the terms thereof.”
In the guarantee language in Antonio Brown's Patriots contract: If Brown "takes any action that materially undermines the public's respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, the Player's teammates or the Club's ownership, coaches," etc., guarantees will "null and void." pic.twitter.com/BFdUfcuaXD
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 11, 2019
“The union will likely argue that Brown was never criminally investigated or charged, wasn’t on a suspended or exempt list, and the Patriots had no recourse to void his guarantees,” the Globe’s Ben Volin wrote. “The Patriots will likely argue that Brown didn’t represent himself honestly before signing the contract.”
Volin noted that the Patriots will continue to carry salary cap hits of $5.75 million in 2019 and $4.75 million in 2020 until the grievance is settled. If the Patriots win the grievance, they will get a cap credit in 2020.
Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports expects Brown will never get the additional $9 million due to his violation of the contract.
“The Patriots deserve every bit of criticism they get for signing Brown,” Schwab wrote. “But at least it probably won’t cost them much money in addition to the terrible publicity.”