Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports there is a “real chance” Patriots WR Antonio Brown plays in Week 2 unless the NFL steps in.
The alleged victim in the sexual assault and rape case against Brown plans to meet with NFL investigators and a meeting will likely take place next week.
The NFL could place Brown on the commissioner exempt list, but Rapoport explains that this would be an unprecedented move for a player facing a civil lawsuit and not a criminal case.
Rapoport has been told that neither the Patriots nor the NFL knew about this situation before Brown signed with New England.
Brown practiced with the Patriots for the first time on Wednesday.
According to Adam Schefter, Patriots WR Antonio Brown could be a candidate for the commissioner’s exempt list while the league investigates the accusations of sexual assault and rape made against the receiver.
Patriots HC Bill Belichick told the media (Per Nick Underhill) he expected Brown to still practice on Wednesday and they would take it one day at a time in regards to Brown potentially playing Sunday against the Dolphins.
“Both Antonio and his representative have made statements…,” Belichick said via Albert Breer. “We’ve looked into the situation, we’re taking it very seriously.”
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said in an interview on SportsCenter that his client is innocent.
“He is a loving father [of] five children, including a daughter,” Rosenhaus said via Pro Football Talk. “I myself am a father and I have two children, two daughters, that I love very much, along with my wife. I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t believe Antonio. These allegations are false. He denies every one of them. I’m very confident that his legal team has facts that will prove this.”
Rosenhaus repeatedly called the allegations false and characterized the civil suit against Brown as a “money grab” three times.
“What I want to emphasize to everybody is please allow the situation to play itself out,” Rosenhaus said. “Antonio will cooperate. He will cooperate with the Patriots, with the NFL, with any investigation, with the NFLPA, and in time Antonio will be cleared. These allegations in the lawsuit are false. They are not true. They are absolutely not true.”
Rosenhaus also mentioned he and Brown “had been unfortunately anticipating this situation” via Will Brinson. Schefter adds the allegations caught the Patriots by surprise.
The NFL will begin its investigation Wednesday, but will not be able to interview Brown’s accuser, Britney Taylor, until next week. Schefter says Taylor is willing and planning to meet with the NFL, but cannot meet until after her wedding this weekend.
Brown, 31, is a former sixth-round pick of the Steelers back in 2010. He was in the third year of his five-year, $72.71 million contract when the Steelers traded him to the Raiders back in March.
The Raiders later signed Brown to a new contract worth $50.125 million and includes $30.125 million guaranteed. However, Oakland made the decision to release Brown on Saturday, making him an unrestricted free agent and he later signed a one-year deal worth up to $15 million with the Patriots.
In 2018, Brown appeared in 15 games for the Steelers and caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the No. 26 receiver out of 117 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding Brown as the news is available.