There's no better port in an NFL legal storm than Mike Florio's.
The ProFootballTalk founder and talking head on NBC's Football Night in America helped us make sense of the countersuit filed by Antonio Brown this week against his alleged victim Britney Taylor when he came on Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast.
Brown's situation seems to be building to some kind of crescendo in the past week. He met with NFL investigators last week. Earlier this week he - out of nowhere - apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft for the "bad media" he caused when he lit into the owner following his September release. And now, the countersuit which Florio said hinges on a confidentiality agreement. Florio also reported that Brown's camp is "optimistic" the mercurial wide receiver's name will be cleared by the league.
If that happens, the specter of Brown being placed on the NFL's exempt list should disappear and teams will stop treating him as if he's radioactive.
The crescendo would be Brown rejoining the Patriots.
Discussing that, Florio said, "I'm not so sure the Patriots will bring him back."
In order for the Patriots to bend, Florio said, "If the NFL were to issue a statement that said, ‘We've investigated this situation, no criminal charges were ever filed. No criminal charges will be filed. A lawsuit was filed. We've spoken to the alleged victim. We've spoken to him. We've investigated any of the other leads that are out there and we've decided there is no violation of the personal conduct policy,' that changes everything.
"And then the Patriots could bring him back in theory," Florio added, "if they were willing to let bygones be bygones over the dumb things that he said on social media about Robert Kraft."
When weighing the possibility of Brown being available, Florio said it's not just about whether or not the receiver can help New England.
"Here's the other side of it, and this is a very important dynamic," Florio pointed out. "It comes down to how badly you want to win Super Bowl No. 7 for the Patriots. Because if you don't sign him, it's not an up-or-down, binary choice where it's either, ‘We have him or we don't.'
"There's a much more important net loss here. And that's if you don't sign him, somebody else will," Florio warned. "Somebody else may be the Ravens or the Chiefs. Or some other team you'll have to deal with in early February. Maybe you see him in the Super Bowl. Maybe he'll be playing for the Seahawks then. So that's where the Patriots really need to think long and hard about whether they want to deal with Antonio Brown on another team. Because it's not, ‘We either use him or we don't use him.' It's, ‘Either we use him or somebody else is gonna use him and make it harder for us to try and do what we're trying to do.' "
Listen to the whole conversation with Florio here. We also spoke on the pod to Mark Leibovich, who wrote "Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times," a book which highlighted the fascinating rivalry between Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
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Mike Florio: If Patriotsdont sign Antonio Brown, 'somebody else will originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston