With Tom Brady having announced on Tuesday that he will not return to the New England Patriots next season, there will now be a desperate attempt from fans and the media to find out where it all went wrong. There are obviously many factors that led to the divorce, but the last real contract negotiation Brady had with the team may have done permanent damage.
Brady entered last offseason in the final year of his contract, and he wanted the Patriots to give him an extension. He previously sought an extension in 2018, but New England ended up building incentives into his contract instead — ones he never reached. When the Patriots finally agreed to give Brady a raise prior to last season, it was apparently in response to the six-time Super Bowl champion becoming disgusted with the organization.
According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, Brady considered walking out of training camp last year when the Patriots were not going to make any changes to his contract. What he really wanted was a commitment beyond the 2019 season, but the two sides ultimately settled on a raise and an assurance that Brady would not be hit with the franchise tag this offseason. That paved the way for Brady to start a new chapter elsewhere, which is what he will now do.
Brady and the Patriots never made any real progress in contract talks this offseason. From the way it sounds, Bill Belichick only wanted him back at a price you would expect to have to pay for a 43-year-old quarterback whose skills are declining — not the greatest quarterback of all time. Belichick likely felt the same about Brady’s contract a year ago, which is how we got to where we are today.
Robert Kraft seems to be pointing the finger at Brady a bit, but it’s hard to believe Brady had zero interest in returning to New England. He wanted to feel wanted, and Belichick simply may not have wanted him.
The New England Patriots officially have a vacancy at their starting quarterback spot for the first time in two decades, and they are open to the idea of making a big splash in free agency to fill it.
The Patriots and Carolina Panthers both have interest in signing Bridgewater, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2020
The Panthers announced on Tuesday that they have given Cam Newton and his representatives permission to seek a trade, so they are also in search of a new starting quarterback. ESPN’s Dianna Russini has reported that talks between Bridgewater and the Panthers are “going very well,” but it’s unclear when those talks began. Now that Brady has officially announced he will not be returning to the Patriots, the free agency landscape could shift dramatically.
The Patriots have very little salary cap space, so they may be hesitant to give Bridgewater the type of money teams are expected to offer him. There are obviously many ways to manipulate cap space, but the Panthers are in a better position to pay Bridgewater than New England is.
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Tom Brady announced on Tuesday that he will not return to the New England Patriots next season, and the team appears determined to make it known that the decision to part ways was Brady’s.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he met face to face with Brady on Monday night, at which point the six-time Super Bowl champion informed Kraft he will be signing with another team this offseason. Kraft told ESPN’s Mike Reiss that Brady has “earned that right” and that Kraft still loves him “like a son.” However, Kraft later told multiple reporters that the Patriots would have worked out a deal with Brady if the 42-year-old wanted to return.
Robert Kraft told me "if Tom wanted to remain a Patriot, we would have had a deal." Said Brady believes it was best to turn the page and start a new chapter of his life in football and beyond. #Patriots @nflnetwork
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 17, 2020
Stephen A just said Robert Kraft called him during the last commercial break and told him: "….be very clear if Tom Brady wanted to stay we would've worked it out, and he would've remained a New England Patriot. But Tom Brady wanted to leave."
— Michele Steele (@ESPNMichele) March 17, 2020
Kraft and Bill Belichick both also released statements praising Brady.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) March 17, 2020
We’ll probably never know what went on behind the scenes with Brady and the Patriots, but it was inevitable that Kraft would try to assure fans that the team did everything it could to keep the most important player in franchise history. There is almost certainly more to the story than that.
According to at least one report, the Patriots did not make a legitimate effort to keep Brady. All indications are that Belichick did not want to pay top starter money for a quarterback who will soon turn 43, and that is consistent with how the coach has operated throughout his entire tenure in New England.
Brady reportedly has some hefty offers from at least two teams. He had to have known the Patriots weren’t going to be the highest bidder, but it sounds like Belichick could have showed him more appreciation. We heard previously that Kraft had no intention of intervening in contract negotiations, so it’s hard to believe the Patriots did everything they could to re-sign Brady.
Tom Brady announced on Tuesday that he will not be re-signing with the New England Patriots, and all indications are that the decision came after Bill Belichick made it clear he was indifferent about the six-time Super Bowl champion returning.
Multiple reports over the last several weeks claimed the Patriots had made little to no progress in contract negotiations with Brady, and Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports says New England never made a “tangible effort” to keep the 42-year-old. Belichick essentially left the ball in Brady’s court the entire time, and it sounds like that helped pushed Brady out the door.
In the end, a tangible effort by the Patriots to keep Tom Brady in New England never happened. No negotiation. Just the intimation that it was on Brady to say what he wanted. For Brady, that stance spoke volumes.
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) March 17, 2020
Belichick has always preferred to part ways with players a bit early rather than too late, and in the end he treated Brady no differently from past Patriots like Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe was told the Patriots made Brady an offer and “he didn’t want it,” and that was the end of the negotiation.
Source: "They gave Tom a number. He didn't want it."
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 17, 2020
In other words, Belichick was probably willing to bring Brady back for one year on a contract the coach felt was appropriate for a soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback whose skills are clearly in decline. If Brady wanted to be compensated for and/or praised for his past accomplishments, he was always going to have an easier time getting that treatment from another team.
It seems like Belichick is simply ready to begin rebuilding. As for Brady, he reportedly has hefty offers from at least two teams, though he could take some time to see if the market changes at all now that he has committed to not returning to New England.
Tom Brady’s tenure with the New England Patriots has officially come to an end.
With the NFL free agency period underway, Brady issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that he will not be returning to the Patriots.
FOREVER A PATRIOT pic.twitter.com/QSBOJBs4uy
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 17, 2020
Brady’s market has not been as strong as initially believed, but his decision to leave the Patriots likely has less to do with that and more to do with the lack of appreciation the franchise showed for him. It’s possible that New England was unwilling to give Brady a multi-year deal, and a recent report indicated the Patriots were offering to pay him less than he got in 2019.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday that the Patriots and Brady were nowhere close to a contract, so it sounds like they didn’t get very far in negotiations. Brady likely would have had to take a significant pay cut to remain with New England, and it seems like Bill Belichick was simply ready to go in a different direction. While Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion and one of the greatest players of all time, it would be unlike Belichick to commit multiple years to a player who will turn 43 before the start of the upcoming season.
Now, the question becomes where Brady will sign. He reportedly has a strong offer from at least one team, but he could wait to see how things play out now that teams know he is truly open for business.
Tom Brady is officially free to negotiate a contract with teams other than the Patriots for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, and some believe he will simply test the waters before returning to New England. That assumption may be inaccurate.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss reiterated on Monday that the Patriots want Brady back, but the reporter said he is starting to get the impression the feeling is not mutual.
"There's a place here (Foxboro) for Brady if he wants it. I'm starting to question if he really wants it."
Added #Bucs made an "aggressive initial offer" to TB12.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 16, 2020
Reiss is around the Patriots as much as anyone and has covered them for years, so that is significant. It seems obvious that New England is not going to be the highest bidder for Brady, but what if he doesn’t want to stay with the Pats, anyway?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are said to be aggressively pursuing Brady, and they are expected to offer him a ton of guaranteed money. They cannot, however, offer Brady the same type of winning culture the quarterback has been a part of throughout his entire career. That’s not to say that is as important to Brady now as it was in the past.
Brady and the Patriots have reportedly gotten nowhere in contract talks, but that could change in a hurry. If Brady wants to leave New England, the Pats are almost certainly not going to use money in an attempt to change his mind.
The legal tampering window of NFL free agency has officially opened, and the list of potential Brady suitors appears to be shrinking by the day. Despite that, ESPN’s Adam Schefter expressed doubt on Monday that Brady will return to New England, reporting that Brady and the Patriots are nowhere close to agreeing to a new deal.
Adam Schefter with the latest on Tom Brady and the Patriots:
“Tom Brady does not have anything close to a deal in New England yet.” pic.twitter.com/mohq0DIPup
— Binge Sports (@BingeSports) March 16, 2020
“I know people think he’s going back to New England. What makes them think that?” Schefter asked. “Why would they think that now, when he put the motion into place where basically he voided the contract, there haven’t been any substantial contract negotiations … Why do people think now that all of a sudden in the 24th hour something is going to get done that hasn’t gotten done in the previous weeks and months? I don’t understand that.”
The Patriots made an interesting move on Monday when they placed the franchise tag on offensive lineman Joe Thuney. Some viewed that as a sign that New England is trying to show Brady they are committed to protecting him, but Schefter said one thing has nothing to do with the other and that the issues between the Patriots and Brady are “deeper than that.”
There seems to be little question that the relationship between Brady and the Patriots (specifically Bill Belichick) is not in a great place. However, Brady’s best chance to contend for another Super Bowl is probably to return to New England — especially if his decision is truly down to these two teams.
Belichick has clearly chosen to wait it out and see how Brady’s market develops, and it looks like that was the smart play. Now, the question could come down to whether or not Brady is once again willing to take less than market value to stay put.