Update: According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Patriots WR Antonio Brown had a deadline of last Sunday night to sign a settlement agreement with his accuser, Britney Taylor, or her lawyers would file a civil suit accusing Brown of sexual assault and rape.
The settlement would have paid Taylor more than $2 million before Brown declined to sign it. Darlington reports the two sides started settlement discussions in April and had a mediation session in May.
The league is looking to ramp up its investigation quickly given the nature of the allegations against Brown and the timing during the season.
According to the lawsuit, there was another football player present at the house at the time of the alleged rape. Rapoport says this player is currently a rookie and thus will be compelled to meet with NFL investigators.
Rapoport has been told neither the Patriots nor the NFL knew about this situation before Brown signed with New England. One source told Rapoport Patriots owner Robert Kraft would not have approved signing Brown if the allegations had been known.
He added Brown and Taylor engaged in confidential settlement talks for months before the latter filed the civil suit.
Brown will not yet be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and should play for the Patriots in their Week 2 game against Miami. A source tells Rapoport the Patriots plan to “feed him” this week.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports Patriots HC Bill Belichick views Brown as an “elite performer” and a “major boost” to New England’s Super Bowl chances. He started pursuing Brown almost as soon as his situation with the Steelers started deteriorating at the end of 2018.
Pittsburgh initially told Belichick they would need a first-round pick plus another significant player or pick. While Belichick immediately said that wouldn’t be a problem, Pittsburgh called back shortly after to say New England was on a shortlist of rivals they wouldn’t negotiate with.
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.