Representatives for New England Patriots receiver Antonio Brown and Britney Taylor were in discussions over the past few months, but agreed their communication would remain confidential until the filing of Taylor's civil sexual assault lawsuit, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
This, the sources say, is why the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, who released Brown last weekend, would not have known about the matter unless there was a breach in the confidentiality of those discussions.
Though the exact nature of the talks has not been confirmed, it is common practice for settlement talks to occur before a civil filing.
Taylor, Brown's former trainer, filed a lawsuit with the Southern District of Florida accusing Brown of sexually assaulting her on three occasions. The discussions help explain why Brown did not notify the Raiders or the Patriots about the matter.
Taylor has scheduled a meeting with the NFL for next week, according to a source. The league has the option to place Brown on the commissioner's exempt list -- which would remove him from the team's active list while still being paid -- but might not levy that decision this week.
Brown is expected to meet with the league at some point, and the Patriots -- who signed Brown on Monday, two days after his short-lived, messy tenure with Oakland ended -- have stated they take the matter seriously.
One high-ranking team source said players are not obligated to notify a team about a civil case before signing a free-agent contract. When it rises to a criminal case, he says, that dynamic obviously changes.