As expected, Patriots didn't pay $5 million bonus to Antonio Brown on Monday

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Columnist
Yahoo Sports

When the New England Patriots released Antonio Brown last Friday, it seemed unlikely that they would be paying the first installment of Brown’s $9 million signing bonus, which was due to be paid on Monday.

And when Brown took aim at Patriots owner Robert Kraft in a now-deleted barrage of tweets Sunday morning, it basically guaranteed that Brown wouldn’t get that money.

Guess what? He didn’t.

Report: $5 million not paid

The New England Patriots did not pay Antonio Brown a $5 million bonus by Monday's deadline. (Getty Images)
The New England Patriots did not pay Antonio Brown a $5 million bonus by Monday's deadline. (Getty Images)

Were he still on the Patriots’ roster, Brown would have received $5 million on Monday, the amount of the first installment of his $9 million bonus.

He was released, putting that money in doubt.

Citing a league source, Pro Football Talk reports that New England didn’t pay on or before the Monday deadline specified in Brown’s contract.

It’s expected that Brown will file a grievance and ask the NFL Players Association to fight for his money on his behalf, and for the Patriots to argue that Brown broke the terms of his contract and therefore isn’t entitled to the bonus money.

‘Disparagement’ clause will likely play role

As Yahoo! Sports NFL columnist Charles Robinson wrote on Sunday, the Patriots winning in a fight against Brown over the bonus money doesn’t seem to be cut-and-dried.

There were two things in Brown’s contract that would trigger a voiding of the language: standard NFL contract language that says a player must notify a team of any pending actionable issues against him prior to signing his deal; in this case, whether Brown and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, knew Brown would be facing a federal civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault and rape at the time.

There was also a “disparagement” clause included in Brown’s contract with the Patriots, which stated, “If at any time prior to the end of the 2019 League Year, [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.”

Robinson noted that it may be difficult for New England to win on the “actionable issue” argument since the team played him in a game, against the Miami Dolphins, after the lawsuit was filed.

The team’s stronger argument might be with he disparagement clause and that he took “action that materially undermine[d] the image” of the franchise. That argument would be based on Brown allegedly sending group text messages to some of his lackeys, his attorney and the second woman who has publicly accused him of sexual impropriety.

Those reported text messages were sent while he was a member of the Patriots, after a Sports Illustrated story brought the second woman’s accusation to light.

In the texts, Brown commands the lackeys to look into the woman’s background and financial situation, saying she was broke; he included pictures of her children. The woman has not asked Brown for any money.

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