New England Patriots

Jun 5, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on the field during mandatory minicamp at the Gillette Stadium practice field. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt McCarthy,

The decision to sign Antonio Brown continues to draw criticism in the wake of the troubled wide receiver’s 11-day saga in New England, and one report now suggests that Bill Belichick was the driving force behind bringing Brown to Foxboro.

The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo said on his podcast Monday that his sources indicated Belichick struck the deal with Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus without consulting other members of the organization.

“From what I’ve heard, Belichick just did this completely on his own,” Russillo said.

“When Brown was (released), Rosenhaus [called Belichick and said] ‘Let’s figure this out,’ and Bill [said] ‘Done,’ but Belichick [didn’t] consult anybody else and just did it.”

Even if Belichick spearheaded the Brown signing, it certainly sounds like there was support from his quarterback. Al Michaels of NBC reported on opening night that team owner Robert Kraft told him that Brady said he was “100 percent in” on the decision to sign Brown.

Brady has all but acknowledged that conversation with Kraft did happen, saying publicly on multiple occasions that he wished Kraft had kept that discussion private.

A dispute is likely to ensue over the $9 million in guaranteed money in Brown’s contract. The Patriots cut Brown before the first of two installments was scheduled to be paid on Monday, but Brown’s representatives and the NFLPA seem poised to argue that he should still be paid.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Kraft has no intention to pay Brown in the wake of the wide receiver’s tweet-storm on Sunday in which he criticized the Patriots owner, but Kraft could still be forced to write that check in the event Brown proves victorious in litigation.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.