The New England Patriots decided to release Antonio Brown following the report he sent intimated group text messages to an artist who accused him on unwanted sexual advances.

"That crossed the line," one source familiar with the organization's thinking told ESPN. "This was real evidence."

The Patriots are expected to withhold the $9 million signing bonus they agreed to pay Brown when he signed.

Among other factors, New England will lean on the "representation and warranty" clause in Brown's contract that specifically states: "Player represent warrants and covenance to the club that he will 1) execute in good faith and to the best of his ability all of his obligations to and for the club; 2) he does not and will not participate and is not engaged or will not engage in any conduct or activity that is illegal, unlawful or immoral. And 3) No circumstances exist that would prevent players continuing availability to the club for the duration of the contract."

Some NFL sources strongly believe the Patriots will eventually owe Brown $9 million.