If former Patriots receiver Antonio Brown wants his $9 million signing bonus, he’s going to have to fight for it.
Per a league source, the Patriots did not pay Brown $5 million, the first installment of the signing bonus, on or before the Monday deadline specified in his contract.
The move was widely expected, even though the team’s argument for not paying earned money to Brown ultimately may fail. He did not commit a “forfeitable breach” under the terms of the labor deal. Thus, the Patriots will have to fashion an argument based on, for example, Brown withholding information as to the threatened sexual assault and rape litigation from the team. The Patriots would argue that they wouldn’t have signed Brown if they’d known about the potential lawsuit, especially since it can (and did) spark an NFL investigation that could result in Brown being placed on paid leave.
Whatever the argument, there’s no downside in refusing to pay Brown. If he wins, he gets the money — without interest, attorneys’ fees, liquidated damages, or other costs. Given his recent history of erratic and aggressive behavior, an arbitrator may be inclined to find a way to bend the facts and applicable precedent in the direction of a finding that Brown will get nothing.
Brown undoubtedly will file a grievance aimed at getting the $9 million, along with the balance of his $1 million guaranteed salary. As explained on Sunday, his minimum pay from the Patriots will be $283,333.