BOSTON (CBS) — As the season enters its final quarter, the Patriots’ offense has been struggling. Despite a need for a boost, and despite some public apologies from Antonio Brown, the folks in Foxboro will not be turning to the current castoff to provide that help.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that, according to “league sources,” the Patriots will not be re-signing Brown if and when he makes his return to the NFL.
“New England hasn’t considered bringing him back since deciding to move on from him during the season, as much as the offense could use him,” Schefter wrote.
That news figures to become relevant in the near future, as the NFL is expected to conclude its investigation into accusations of sexual assault and rape levied against Brown. After the Patriots released Brown in September, the league released a statement that strongly suggested that if any team were to sign Brown, he would immediately be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, thereby making him ineligible to play until the league finished its investigation.
Schefter did not report when that investigation might end, but the reporting about employment suggests that it could be coming soon.
Brown, 31, has had an eventful past year, to say the least. Most recently, he was released by the Patriots a little over a week after signing with the team. Brown played in just one game for New England, catching five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, before getting into trouble by sending intimidating text messages to a woman who had accused him of committing an unwanted sexual advance. That accusation came after another woman filed a civil lawsuit against Brown, accusing him of sexual assault and rape.
Brown was only available to sign with the Patriots because he forced his way off the Raiders’ roster. Oakland signed Brown to a three-year, $50 million contract with $30 million guaranteed — or so everybody thought. A summer filled with frostbitten feet, helmet complaints, retirement threats, verbal and near-physical fights with the GM and pleas to be released led to the Raiders granting the wideout’s wishes just before the regular season was set to begin. Oakland also managed to get out of almost all of the money owed to Brown by voiding his guarantees.
Brown had landed with the Raiders via trade, after he likewise forced his way out of Pittsburgh. After nine seasons spent suiting up for the Steelers, Brown seemed to have run into some issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Brown was a no-show at practice in the week leading up to a must-win game for Pittsburgh at the end of the season, and shortly thereafter he requested to be traded.
In 131 career games in the NFL, Brown has caught 841 passes for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns. Among active NFL players, Brown ranks third in career receptions and fourth in career receiving yards, trailing only future Hall of Famers Larry Fitzgerald and Jason Witten in the former category. Julio Jones has also passed Brown in receiving yards.
After lashing out several times at the NFL and at Robert Kraft over the past two months, Brown apologized to Kraft and to anyone he offended on social media. This week, he told Tom Brady that he missed his “big bro.”
On Nov. 14, Brown was interviewed by the NFL as part of the league’s investigation into the sexual assault and rape claims made against him. That meeting reportedly lasted eight hours. Britney Taylor, the accuser, had met with the league back in September.
Schefter reported that even though the Patriots won’t be re-signing Brown, the receiver “is expected to find work once the NFL wraps up its investigation.”