Even though Antonio Brown played only one game for the New England Patriots last season and has been off the team since his unceremonious release on September 20, he still has an impact on the club. Not only will he hit the team’s books with a $4.5 million dead salary cap number this season, the Patriots and Brown are also in the middle of a grievance filed by the wide receiver against the club over his a signing bonus New England refused to pay.
The Patriots could gain $9 million if the grievance is settled in their favor, and given Brown’s behavior before and after his release it would not be surprise if that happened. The money would then be added to New England’s salary cap as a benefit. However, it appears as if the team should not count on that happening before the 2020 league year begins on March 18: the grievance has not yet been scheduled, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
According to the report, Brown’s ongoing grievance against his former team — the then-Oakland Raiders — will be heard by a neutral arbitrator in May. The grievance against the Patriots, one would expect, will not be decided until after that date. The team will therefore likely not be able to invest that potential $9 million in question in free agency, with its expected salary cap space remaining at $29.07 million (via Patscap’s Miguel Benzan).
Brown’s grievance is one of four still outstanding from New England’s perspective. The team is also fighting for $3.25 million against the Aaron Hernandez estate, as well as $179,200 and $163,200 against David Parry and Cole Croston, respectively.