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#pounditFriday, March 5, 2021

Report: Patriots will likely have to pay Antonio Brown his signing bonus

Antonio Brown

The New England Patriots will likely have to pay Antonio Brown his signing bonus, according to one report.

Brown was released by the Patriots on Friday, Sept. 20, 11 days after signing with the team. Brown’s deal was a one-year contract worth up to $15 million. There were $10 million in guarantees, with nine of that coming through a signing bonus divided into two payments. The first signing bonus installment was set to be paid on Monday, Sept. 23, and the Pats did not pay it.

Brown is planning to file a grievance over the signing bonus money, and Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson believes the team will have to pay it.

Robinson says five sources with whom he spoke said they believe the Patriots will have to pay it. There is specific language in the CBA that states stipulations for which a signing bonus payment can be forfeited. Article 4, Section 9 of the CBA outlines those four cases:

(a) Forfeitable Breach. Any player who (i) willfully fails to report, practice or play with the result that the player’s ability to fully participate and contribute to the team is substantially undermined (for example, without limitation, holding out or leaving the squad absent a showing of extreme personal hardship); or (ii) is unavailable to the team due to conduct by him that results in his incarceration; or (iii) is unavailable to the team due to a nonfootball injury that resulted from a material breach of Paragraph 3 of his NFL Player Contract; or (iv) voluntarily retires …

Brown reported, was not incarcerated, did not have a nonfootball injury, and did not voluntarily retire. His release did not fall under any of those categories. He was really released for reportedly making owner Robert Kraft furious with his harassing text messages.

The Patriots reportedly believed they would be able to avoid paying the bonus due to a representation warranty clause they put in the receiver’s contract. However, past arbitration has shown arbitrators believe the CBA rules supersede any contract a team signs a player to, meaning Brown would likely win a grievance.

The Patriots could have used the argument that Brown failed to disclose his lawsuit, however, they allowed him to play in Week 2 even after the lawsuit was filed, indicating that was not a problem for the team.

Brown recently said he is done playing in the NFL and ripped Kraft in a tweet. He would be due $9 million in a bonus.

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