New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown works out Wednesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. AP Photo/Steven Senne

Wide receiver Antonio Brown remained eligible to make his debut Sunday for the New England Patriots after the NFL put off a decision at least until next week about whether to put him on paid leave via placement on the commissioner’s exempt list.

It remains possible that Brown could be placed on the exempt list once the league’s investigation progresses further but NFL officials did not believe as of Friday that they were in position to make a determination, according to multiple people with knowledge of the case.

The possibility of Brown being placed on the exempt list “is not, by any means, off the table,” one of those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

The league considers the allegations of rape and sexual assault against Brown, made in a lawsuit, to be alarming and lurid but realizes that the accusations are not proven, and that they have been denied by Brown, according to those familiar with the case. The NFL is proceeding carefully and wants to be certain that if it does place Brown on paid leave, its procedures and reasoning are sound and defensible, according to those people.

The NFL’s investigation “will take a little time” but the league hopes to be in position relatively soon to make a decision about the exempt list, one of those people said. It’s not clear if that means a decision will be made next week. It could take longer, depending on what the league’s investigation finds, according to the people close to the situation.

Brown was accused of rape and sexual assault in a lawsuit in Florida by a former college classmate who worked for Brown as his trainer. He has denied the allegations through his lawyer and hasn’t been charged with a crime.

His accuser, Britney Taylor, is expected to meet next week with NFL representatives, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. That meeting reportedly couldn’ take place sooner because of her wedding.

NFL investigators also are seeking to interview other potential witnesses and are gathering other evidence, according to those with knowledge of the case. Brown is expected to be interviewed at some point.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick declined to say Friday whether Brown will play Sunday.

“We’ll do what’s best for the team,” Belichick said at his daily media briefing in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The Patriots play Sunday at Miami. Brown practiced with the team this week after agreeing to a one-year contract last Saturday, hours after being released by the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots announced the deal Tuesday.

If Brown is placed on the exempt list, he would be paid but not be permitted to practice with the Patriots or attend games. He would be allowed to be at the Patriots’ facilities to participate in meetings and workouts, and undergo medical treatment. He would have the right to appeal his placement on the exempt list.

Comments are not available on this story.