The NFL will not place New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list at this point, making him eligible to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The league has opened an investigation into Brown that will include interviews with the wide receiver and Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer who filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida on Tuesday in which she accused him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions in 2017 and 2018.
Taylor has scheduled a meeting with the NFL for next week, a source previously told ESPN.
Sources told Schefter that Brown won’t be placed on the exempt list, as there is no criminal investigation into Brown.
Asked Friday whether Brown would play, Patriots coach Bill Belichick answered, “We’ll do what’s best for the team.” He later added that the team is trying to get Brown, who signed Monday, up to speed as quickly as possible.
“Long way to go, obviously. Not familiar with our offense,” Belichick said of Brown. “The systems he’s been in have been quite different. He’s working hard to pick it up and we’re working hard to get it to him.”
On Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Patriots and Oakland Raiders had not been aware of the pending lawsuit against Brown, who had been in discussions with Taylor over the past few months. They had agreed that their communication would remain confidential until the filing of Taylor’s sexual assault lawsuit, sources told Fowler.
Brown’s lawyer, Darren Heitner, said in a statement Tuesday night that his client and Taylor were involved in a “consensual personal relationship.”
After the lawsuit’s filing, the Patriots said they were taking the allegations seriously but would not comment further during the NFL’s investigation.
On Wednesday, Belichick wouldn’t commit to Brown playing, saying the team was taking it “day to day.” Since then, Brown has participated in two practices — with a third to come later Friday — and has impressed his new teammates.
“AB is AB. We all know what he brings to the table. Excited to have him here,” safety Duron Harmon said, adding: “He’s doing everything the right way.”
Said wide receiver Phillip Dorsett: “He is a hard worker, [has] a lot of energy, a playmaker.”