Antonio Brown will practice with the New England Patriots on Wednesday, but his future remains murky as the NFL meets on the same day to discuss how to handle his off-field conduct, according to USA Today.
Head coach Bill Belichick confirmed the former All-Pro wide receiver has been in Foxborough since Monday and is ready to take the practice field with Tom Brady and the rest of his new offensive teammates. Belichick wouldn’t say whether Brown is in the game plan or available to play Sunday. The Patriots are 17.5-point favorites at Miami.
USA Today reported Roger Goodell and the NFL are considering use of the commissioner’s exempt list for Brown while rape allegations against him are investigated. It is not known if Brown or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will be in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting centered around the matter.
Questioned repeatedly about Brown, his role with the team and how he fits in general, Belichick would only say Wednesday “We’re focused on Miami,” and “We’re getting ready for Miami.”
Based on the NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual, the exempt list can be applied “in unusual circumstances” with Goodell the sole authority in such matters. Players assigned to the list — including Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens following the release of a dramatic video showing him punching his then-fiance and Adrian Peterson during his time with the Minnesota Vikings while being investigated for child abuse — are not eligible to participate in games or practices, but receive pay and benefits as scheduled. They can attend the team facility but only for individual workouts, medical treatment, meetings, and any other non-football activities with the team’s approval.
Belichick finally said the Patriots would operate “one day at a time” with Brown and see where they stand this weekend.
“I’m done with that,” Belichick said after another attempt at a Brown question. “Anything on Miami?”
The Dolphins have won five of the past six meetings at Hard Rock Stadium but lost 59-10 at home to the Baltimore Ravens last week.
Accuser Britney Taylor filed a civil suit against Brown and alleged he sexually assaulted her, but Brown said the accusations are false and Rosenhaus also defended his well-traveled client on ESPN on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t believe Antonio Brown,” Rosenhaus said.
Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders on March 13 and released by the Raiders on Saturday, ending a brief but eventful stint with the team hours after posting on phone conversation with head coach Jon Gruden to YouTube. In the days prior, Brown posted a fine memo from the team to Instagram, confronted and threatened general manager Mike Mayock at practice over those fines, and offered a tearful apology for his behavior to the team on Friday morning.
In the months prior, Brown had been off the field for reasons related to frostbite-like symptoms on his feet from cryotherapy treatment and a spat with the NFL over use of his old, no-longer-approved helmet.
By fining Brown for conduct detrimental to the team, the Raiders struck all guarantees — totaling $29.5 million — from his contract.
By Sunday night, Brown and the Patriots agreed to an incentive-laden contract that includes $5 million up front and $4 million in additional bonus money he will recoup later.
—Field Level Media