The Patriots and Raiders released Antonio Brown in the past month because of his behavior, but neither team got rid of the headache.
Brown is set to file eight separate grievances against the Patriots and Raiders to collect more than $61 million he believes is owed to him. The Raiders released Brown the day before their season opener this month, and the Patriots released Brown on Sept. 20 after he spent 11 days with the team.
According to ESPN, Brown may file a ninth grievance, this one against the NFL, if the league suspends him for violating the personal conduct policy. Brown, a free agent, was accused of rape and sexual assault in a civil lawsuit in South Florida. The NFL’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Four of the grievances are against the Patriots: One each for Brown’s $1 million guaranteed base salary, his $9 million signing bonus, his unpaid Week 3 salary of $62,500, and his $20 million option year in 2020.
Brown made $95,833 in his first week with the Patriots — a $62,500 game check, and a $33,333 roster bonus. The Patriots had withheld Brown’s Week 3 game check.
Brown appears to have an “open and shut case” to collect his $9 million signing bonus and Week 3 salary, according to legal expert Daniel Wallach. The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement outlines the only four reasons that a team may void a signing bonus — a failure to report, a non-football injury, incarceration, or voluntary retirement — and none appear to apply to Brown.
And the Patriots likely should have paid Brown his Week 3 salary, since he was on the roster at 4 p.m. on Tuesday of that week, and he practiced all three days with the team.
As for the balance of his salary — $875,000 — experts believe Brown has a decent case, but not a slam dunk. The Patriots may argue that Brown wasn’t transparent about a potential sexual assault lawsuit being in the works, but the Patriots still played Brown and kept him on the team for 10 days after the suit became public.
The grievance over the $20 million option year may be tough for Brown to win. The salary was non-guaranteed, and the Patriots never intended to trigger the option — it was done for salary cap purposes to spread Brown’s cap hit over two years instead of one.
The other four grievances are against the Raiders: One each for his $215,000 in fines, $29 million in salary guarantees, a $1 million signing bonus, and unpaid Week 1 salary of $860,000.
Brown may have a tougher time winning these grievances, though he may have a good case for his Week 1 salary. The Raiders voided his guarantees based on Brown skipping multiple practices and team events during training camp. And his $1 million signing bonus was actually a pair of $500,000 offseason workout bonuses that required Brown to attend 85 percent of practices. But Brown voluntarily skipped the Raiders’ offseason program this spring.