When the sexual assault lawsuit against Antonio Brown was filed in federal court in Florida this week, the Patriots apparently had no idea it was coming. 

According to NFL.com, the team was blindsided by the news, which came out just hours after the Patriots announced that Brown had joined the roster. 

In the lawsuit, Brown is accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance, Britney Taylor, on three separate occasions between June 2017 and May 2018. Although Brown's legal team has admitted that the two had a sexual relationship, his camp maintains that everything was consensual between Brown and Taylor. 

The Patriots are rarely blindsided by anything, which led some to wonder how they ended up signing Brown without knowing that he had such a lawsuit hanging over his head. As it turns out, Brown's camp knew for months that the lawsuit was coming, but they didn't tell the Patriots (or the Raiders, Brown's previous team) because they apparently made an agreement with Taylor's camp not to talk about the case. 

According to ESPN.com, the two sides had been engaged in discussions about the case over the past few months with the understanding that all conversations would remain confidential. If Brown's camp had revealed to the Patriots that a lawsuit was coming, that would have been a breach of the agreement. According to ESPN, it's not clear what the two sides were discussing in these confidential meetings, but it's possible they had initial talks about making some sort of settlement, talks that presumably went nowhere since Taylor ended up filing the lawsuit. 

The fact the Patriots didn't know about the lawsuit answers a question that both Bill Belichick and Brown's agent Drew Rosenhaus were unwilling to answer this week. 

The day after the lawsuit was filed, both men were asked if the Patriots had known the lawsuit was coming and both gave vague answers. 

"I'm not going to be expanding on the statements that have already been given," Belichick said Wednesday when asked if the team was aware of the lawsuit before signing Brown.

Rosenhaus had even less to say about the subject when asked about it during a Wednesday interview on ESPN.  

"I'm not going to get into that element," Rosenhaus said. "I'm not going to get into my discussions with the Patriots or what may or may not have been discussed."

Despite the lawsuit, Brown will be allowed to play this week against the Dolphins. Although the NFL has opened an investigation into the case, the league is letting Brown play because he's not facing any criminal charges. If the NFL were to find that the lawsuit has merit, Brown could potentially be placed on the commissioner's exempt list at some point down the road, which would basically put him on paid leave until the end of the investigation.