BOSTON (CBS) — Whenever the Patriots do anything, eyebrows around the country are immediately raised. So when the Patriots jumped headfirst into the Antonio Brown soap opera, you can bet some folks wondered if the whole arrangement was just a little too convenient.
Whether that was just a group of angry fans, or whether it was a collection of suspicious NFL executives and coaches? That’s hard to tell.
Regardless of who might be doing the speculating, agent Drew Rosenhaus went on ESPN on Monday morning to try to dispel any notion that Brown forced his way off the Raiders because he knew the Patriots would happily and quickly sign him.
“Well that is absolutely not true,” Rosenhaus said when asked about any potential “scheme” to get Brown off the Raiders and onto the Patriots. “We were really trying to make this work with the Raiders throughout the process, really up until the day that he was released. And we had no idea whether the Patriots would be interested. In fact, I didn’t have any communication with the Patriots until well after he had been officially released after 4 o’clock. So there was definitely not any scheme to get him to New England or any other team.”
Rosenhaus added: “There was no intent to get out of this deal. It wasn’t premeditated at all.”
Rosenhaus was asked by Stephen A. Smith to explain why anybody should believe that the fix wasn’t in for Brown and the Patriots.
“Because it’s the truth,” Rosenhaus replied. “I mean, what else can I say except it’s a thousand percent the truth? There was no fix. We did try to make it work with the Raiders, really. But for a letter that we received from the Raiders warning Antonio that his contract would be voided, he would be playing tonight for the Oakland Raiders. That’s the unfortunate thing.”
Rosenhaus said that despite the foot issue, despite the helmet issue, and despite the midweek confrontation with Raiders GM Mike Mayock, Brown was ready and eager to play for the Raiders right up until Friday.
“You know, the Raiders protected themselves and that set Antonio off. There’s no question that there were some bumps in the road that fractured the relationship with the Raiders. But even as recently as Friday, it looked like he was going to be in a position to play Monday night with the team,” Rosenhaus said. “He apologized to the team, we were trying to make it work, [but] the club wanted to protect themselves on the contract, on the $30 million in guarantees. And unfortunately, Antonio wasn’t comfortable with that. He wanted out as a result. And that led to New England.”
As for whether Brown can manage to work in the demanding environment that Bill Belichick maintains in Foxboro, Rosenhaus said he presented that reality to Brown.
“I told Antonio that Belichick is a no-nonsense guy and that he’s got a winning program, he’s got a great regime, and he is the kind of guy that you’ve gotta comply with what he does,” Rosenhaus said in the “First Take” interview. “Their philosophy is everybody does their job, and I explained to Antonio that that’s exactly what he has to do moving forward. And he’s comfortable with that. He’s ready to fit in. He wants to win a win a championship. He wants to play for Belichick. He wants to catch passes from Brady.”
Rosenhaus was also asked about ESPN’s Chris Mortensen’s report that Brown consulted with social media experts for advice on how to accelerate a release from the Raiders.
“Well I don’t know about that,” Rosenhaus said. “I wasn’t involved with any social media people. I never talked to AB about that. We never talked about any techniques to get him released. He simply asked for the team to release him, and they decided to do that.”
Rosenhaus added that another team was in “heavy negotiations” with multiple teams after his release.
“I can assure you that was a competitive negotiation for him as a free agent,” Rosenhaus said. “And the deal didn’t get done until really Saturday afternoon around 5 o’clock.”
The Patriots won 33-3 over the Steelers on Sunday night, getting big receiving nights from Phillip Dorsett, Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. Brown now joins a team loaded with receiving options, looking to win a Super Bowl.