Antonio Brown’s tenure with the New England Patriots was short-lived and limited to his Week 2 debut against the Miami Dolphins. On Friday, the team released the receiver after playing just one game in a Patriots uniform.
Following his release, the Patriots released the following statement:
“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”
“It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out with the Patriots,” Rosenhaus said. “But Antonio is healthy and is looking forward to his next opportunity in the NFL. He wants to play the game he loves and he hopes to play for another team soon.”
The NFL released its own statement regarding Brown’s status on Friday night:
“Antonio Brown was released today by the New England Patriots and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation. We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.
“As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.”
The Pick Six Podcast fired up an emergency episode to react to the news and what it means for Brown and the Patriots moving forward. Listen below and be sure to subscribe:
Brown’s release comes in the aftermath of a report from Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko that highlighted allegations of “intimidation” by Brown from an accuser. The now former Patriots receiver is also in the midst of sexual assault accusations that were brought to light following him signing with New England.
After speaking for around 3 minutes and 30 seconds on Friday, Bill Belichick, declining to answer any questions regarding Brown and those allegations. While he didn’t say anything earlier on Friday, the team has clearly decided to it was best to move on from what was a growing distraction.
With his one-year deal, which included a $20 million option for 2020, Brown was due to receive a $9 million signing bonus, but he appears unlikely to see any of it. Per Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB, $5 million of that guaranteed money was due on or before Sept. 23, 2019 and $4 million was due on or before Jan 1, 2020. Per CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora, Brown could end up earning no more than two weeks of prorated money off his $1 million base salary, pending a potential grievance by the NFLPA.
Brown played in just one game for the Patriots and was able to catch four of his eight targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots will move forward with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett as their top three receivers.
From Pittsburgh to Oakland to New England
Before signing on with the Patriots, Brown forced his way out of town with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of last season. He sat out of their regular season finale, which ultimately led to the Steelers shipping him to the Oakland Raiders for third and fifth round picks in this year’s draft.
When he arrived in Oakland, Brown wasn’t exactly a good soldier as he sat out of various practices throughout the summer, because he didn’t like the helmet the league was mandating him to wear due to his old helmet being obsolete. On top of HelmetGate, Brown was dealing with frostbite on his feet after a mishap in a cryotherapy chamber where he wasn’t wearing any protective footwear.
Those were just the appetizers, however, to the spat that Brown had with Raiders GM Mike Mayock after the team fined him for missing those practices. That jawing match led to Brown requesting his release, which the Raiders then obliged.
Following that ordeal, Brown signed a deal with the Patriots the day before the season opener (for which he was ineligible to play), suited up for one game and was able to catch a touchdown in their Week 2 win. Upon his arrival, however, it was revealed that Brown was accused of sexual assault, which, in part, cut his time with the Patriots short.
With all that in mind, it’s safe to wonder if this is the end of AB in the NFL.
Fantasy implications of Brown’s release
Given the off-field issues that Brown is dealing with and the headache that he’s given the three teams he’s been on in the past calendar year, you have to wonder if he still has a future in the NFL. In terms of keeping him on your fantasy roster, the only way that is viable is whether or not your league has deep enough benches that you feel comfortable wasting one with Brown.
Outside of that, he’s droppable.
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As for what this means for the rest of the Patriots receivers, they all see an uptick in fantasy production.
According to SportsLine’s projected fantasy rankings, Julian Edelman moves from WR19 with Antonio Brown to WR16 without him in non-PPR leagues and WR10 with him to WR9 without him in PPR leagues. Josh Gordon moves to WR33 in non-PPR leagues and WR36 in PPR leagues, while Phillip Dorsett bumps up to WR51 in non-PPR and WR55 in PPR.
Running back James White should also see an uptick in targets and should be a value commodity in PPR leagues.
Patriots’ outlook moving forward
It’s hard to figure out how important Antonio Brown was going to be to the Patriots offense after just one game. Considering they were able to still blow out the Steelers in the opener without him would indicate that this offense will still run smoothly with him gone.
According to SportsLine, they are still projected for nearly 13 wins, the No. 1 seed in the conference, have a 48% chance of winning the AFC, and are a 31% favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Their schedule also is pretty kind, so his loss won’t be felt in quite some time. Leading up to their Week 10 bye, the Patriots will face the Jets, at Bills, at Redskins, Giants, at Jets, Browns and at Ravens. All of those are still very winnable games with the players they have on offense.
In the wake of the Brown release, the line for the team’s Week 3 matchup with the Jets dropped one point to Patriots -21.5 at many spots, including the Westgate SuperBook.