What Did the Patriots Know About Antonio Brown?

Neither Bill Belichick nor Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus would say whether the Patriots knew about the possibility of a lawsuit against the wide receiver.
Publish date:

There are many unanswered questions related to the civil case of alleged sexual assault against Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown. The most important question—the one that can’t be answered here and won’t be guessed at—is what happened between Brown and accuser Britney Taylor on the dates in question.

Taylor is accusing Brown of rape and battery across three separate incidents in 2017 and ’18. Brown has denied these allegations.

There are less important, football-related questions, too. Will Brown play this week? Will NFL commissioner Roger Goodell place him on the commissioner’s exempt list? We will know those answers soon enough. But after hearing from Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, we’re still left wondering what the Patriots knew—if anything—before signing Brown to his one-year contract on Monday.

Both Belichick (when asked by a reporter at his Wednesday press conference) and Rosenhaus (when asked by ESPN’s Cari Champion on Wednesday afternoon’s SportsCenter) declined to say whether the Patriots were informed of the allegations and/or potential lawsuit before Saturday’s deal was signed. An NFL media report Wednesday stated the Patriots nor the league knew about it before the signing.

In an attempt to shoot down conspiracy theories that Brown and/or the Patriots had engineered his release to get him with the six-time world champions, Rosenhaus appeared on ESPN’s First Take and put a timeline on his discussions with New England.

At 11:56 a.m. Saturday the Raiders announced Brown’s release. The transaction wouldn’t have officially gone through until 4 p.m. that day, which would have made Brown free to sign with any team as early as 4:01 p.m.

“We had no idea whether the Patriots would be interested,” Rosenhaus said. “In fact I didn’t have any communication with the Patriots until well after he had been officially released after four o’clock.”

Whether you believe the superagent here or not, it’s what he said, and it conforms to NFL rules. Then, at 4:52 p.m., Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion broke the news that Brown planned to sign with New England.

Taking these two things at face value and ignoring what “well after” 4 p.m. means to Rosenhaus, the Patriots and Brown would have had about 50 minutes to strike a deal. And based off Rosenhaus’s admission Wednesday that “Antonio and I have been unfortunately anticipating this possibility” of a lawsuit and internet rumors of the allegations cropping up in the early Saturday morning hours, it can be safely assumed (but not confirmed) that the allegations contained in Taylor’s complaint Tuesday night were known by Brown and his camp, at least in part, at the time of the signing.

Were the Patriots made aware of the allegations and signed Brown anyway, for any or multiple reasons? Did the team not do its due diligence on a player who’s dealt with numerous off-the-field issues of varying magnitudes for years? Was the information not divulged by Brown’s camp? Was the team lied to?

The questions aren’t going anyway any time soon in this case.

Not getting The Morning Huddle and SI’s all-new Fantasy Football newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

Image placeholder title


NOW ON THE MMQB: Michael McCann takes you inside the legalese of the Brown lawsuit. …  Is it time for a mock draft already? Oh, you betcha. …  Andy Benoit dives deep into the Steelers’s troubles from Sunday night’s shellacking. … and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Can the Jaguars actually win with Gardner Minshew? … There may be a new normal with Todd Gurley and the Rams. …  There’s so much power in this poll. … and more.

Image placeholder title


1. How the NFL defenses fell behind the modern offense.

2. Corey Dillon is really tired of being considered a Patriots reclamation project

3. A Twitter user put together a fantastic thread of Cam Newton looking like various Batman villains.   

4. Rest in peace to Petara Cordero, the girlfriend of Browns DE Chris Smith, who was killed in a car accident Wednesday.

5. We revamped the podcast schedule here at The MMQB, and you should definitely subscribe.

Image placeholder title


I read Esquire’s The Falling Man on every anniversary of September 11th and this year was no different. In case you didn’t read it yesterday or haven’t before, you should.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.