Patriots still not willing to bring back Antonio Brown

Mike Florio

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. And the Patriots are still not interested in bringing back receiver Antonio Brown.

The latest re-confirmation of the lingering reality that the Patriots aren’t interested in a reunion with Brown comes from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who says that the team’s ongoing struggles on offense haven’t prompted a change of heart.

As Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston explained on PFT Live late last month, the failure of Brown’s camp to disclose a then-looming sexual assault lawsuit when he first signed with the Patriots makes a reunion highly unlikely.

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“It has more to do with the fact that, when he signed initially with the Patriots, they went through the exercise of, ‘OK, is anything gonna bubble up here? We gonna have an issue with anything?’” Curran said on November 22. “And they were told ‘no,’ mainly because Drew Rosenhaus was under the feeling, I think, that they had it under control. The Britney Taylor situation was not going to explode on them, yet it did. . . . The Patriots don’t want that grenade to go off in their hand twice.”

None of it matters until the NFL clears Brown to return. No team has been willing to sign him since the Patriots released him, due to concerns that the league would place him on paid leave while it finalizes an investigation that is now nearly three months old. Some believe the NFL is content to kick the can into the offseason; with no clear deadlines or dates or mandates in the Personal Conduct Policy, the NFL has the power to take its time, and the NFL Players Association has no power to stop it.

And so Brown continues to wait. Even though the Patriots wouldn’t pursue him, a playoff contender surely would, if the league announces that the investigation is over and he won’t be suspended.

With only three games after this weekend until the playoffs begin, however, the clock is ticking more loudly than ever.

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