Tom Brady may care more about his supporting cast in 2020 than he does about the total dollar amount the New England Patriots are willing to give him, but that’s not to say the contract itself means nothing to him. At the very least, Brady may want the Patriots to show him they believe he has multiple years of good football left to play.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic is the latest Patriots insider to discuss Brady’s impending free agency, and Howe reports that Brady is not trying to set the quarterback market with a $35 million salary. However, Brady wanted guaranteed money for 2020 last offseason when he renegotiated his contract with New England, and he may want the same with his next deal.
Brady will likely want a two-year deal that includes at least some guaranteed money for 2021, that way the Patriots aren’t telling him to once again prove he is still capable of winning games in his 40s. The problem, of course, is that Bill Belichick obviously did not want to give Brady a two-year deal a year ago, and did Brady really do anything last season to change the coach’s opinion of his aging quarterback?
While you could make the argument that Brady had very few weapons to work with on offense, he also showed that he is no longer capable of elevating his mediocre teammates the way he did earlier in his career. Brady also battled some nagging injuries that impacted his play, which is something interested teams are reportedly concerned about.
If Belichick believes Brady gives the Patriots their best chance of winning in 2020, there could be a middle ground for the two sides somewhere. Perhaps New England can offer Brady a contract that pays him a respectable amount in 2020 and 2021 while giving them salary cap flexibility to improve the roster around him. Those are the types of contracts Brady has taken throughout his entire career, and we’ve already heard rumblings about the Pats potentially making a run at a star wide receiver. It’s quite possible that Brady’s and Belichick’s interests are more aligned than many are making it seem.
The New England Patriots are in desperate need of offensive playmakers heading into 2020, and they may need to get aggressive in pursuing one in order to convince Tom Brady to return. If the Pats look to make a trade for a star wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. could be a name to watch.
Greg A. Bedard of Boston Sports Journal recently published what he called a “realistic” projection of the Patriots’ 53-man roster for 2020, and he included Beckham. The rationale behind the prediction is that the Browns are “much more likely” to trade Beckham now that they are focusing on a more analytics-based approach, and Bedard believes Brady and Bill Belichick could get the most out of OBJ the way they did when the Patriots acquired Randy Moss in a blockbuster trade back in 2007.
The Patriots would likely be interested if the Browns made Beckham available via trade. However, Cleveland would almost certainly ask for a first-round pick in return, and it’s unclear if Belichick would be willing to part with the No. 23 overall pick and pay Beckham $14 million per year.
The Patriots were reportedly aggressive in trying to acquire Beckham via trade when the New York Giants first made him available. However, that was before OBJ signed his massive contract extension, so things may not be the same now.
A lot has been made about Brady wanting a big financial commitment from the Patriots, but he really wants them to improve the roster around him. He would probably be willing to take less than market value once again if he had a chance to play with a Pro Bowler like Beckham, with whom he has always been friendly.
Tom Brady is far from a sure thing to return to the New England Patriots, but at least one connected reporter seems to think all the talk about Brady being excited for a fresh start has been overblown.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss, who has been covering the Patriots for years and is as plugged in as anyone with all the happenings in New England, thinks Brady will remain with the team as long as the Pats show him some love at the negotiating table. Reiss wrote on Sunday that the culture Brady has helped create in New England is important to him, and it’s not something he is itching to leave behind.
“I also think something that tugs at Brady’s heart is the culture he’s helped create in New England over 20 years, and it won’t be easy for him to leave if the Patriots come to the negotiating table with emotion and the intention of keeping him,” Reiss said. “That last part, in my opinion, is the key, and it’s why the negotiating football is currently in the Patriots’ hands.”
Another ESPN reporter, Jeff Darlington, said earlier in the week that it is “more likely than not” that Brady will leave the Patriots. That seems like a bit of an exaggeration at this point, and Las Vegas oddsmakers still consider New England the favorite by quite a wide margin.
The timing of the negotiations between Brady and the Patriots could make things complicated, as the team reportedly wants an answer from him before free agency begins. New England supposedly only considers one team a real threat to sign Brady away from them, so perhaps they are not all that concerned about the process dragging on too long.
NFL owners met on Thursday and approved the terms of a proposed new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, and there is optimism that a new CBA could go into effect before the start of the league year on March 18. If the New England Patriots are planning to bring back Tom Brady, that could be a significant development for them.
It’s no secret that NFL teams use a variety of tricks to manipulate the salary cap, and one of those is basically kicking money down the road in order to save cap space in the near-term. The Patriots did that prior to last season when they reworked Brady’s contract and made it a new two-year deal, but the second deal was voidable. There was never any intention of having Brady under contract in 2020, but being able to include a second, voidable year allowed the Patriots to spread out the salary cap hit.
The current CBA between the NFL and NFL Players Association is set to expire following the 2020 season. Without a new agreement in place prior to the start of the league year on March 18, teams would not be able to include voidable years in a player’s contract. As Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston pointed out, that would mean the Patriots can’t sign Brady to a contract that pays him handsomely and voids in 2021 unless a new CBA is agreed upon between now and March 18.
Kicking money down the road may seem counterproductive, but Curran notes that the NFL will have new deals with TV partners coming up and is also finding ways to profit from the legal gambling industry. That will likely lead to the salary cap increasing, which means any dead money on a player’s deal now will — in theory — occupy a lesser percentage of the team’s overall cap number in future years.
In other words, a new CBA would remove one potential complication from contract negotiations between Brady and the Patriots. Some of the recent reports we have heard about the situation indicate that may not matter, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Las Vegas oddsmakers believe there is a strong chance Tom Brady will return to the New England Patriots next season, but at least one connected NFL reporter thinks the handicappers have it wrong.
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, who has a fairly close relationship with Brady stemming from when Darlington exclusively covered the Miami Dolphins and the AFC East, told “Golic and Wingo” on Thursday that it is time for people to accept the fact that there’s a “very real possibility” Brady will sign with a team other than the Patriots this offseason. Darlington went as far as to say it is “more likely than not” that Brady has played his last snap for New England.
“It’s time to wrap our heads around the idea of Tom Brady leaving New England because it’s a VERY REAL possibility.”
— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) February 20, 2020
If Brady and the Patriots don’t agree to an extension before March 18, the 42-year-old will become a free agent for the first time in his career. The Patriots reportedly want an answer from him before that time, as there would be serious salary cap consequences for them if they wait until after the start of free agency to re-sign Brady. That could also leave New England scrambling for a replacement in the event that Brady does leave.
We’ve said all along that Brady is likely using his leverage in an attempt to get the Patriots to improve their roster, as he was openly upset with his lack of a supporting cast in 2019. Starting fresh in a new city with a new offense and coaching staff would be extremely difficult for Brady, who will turn 43 before the start of the 2020 season.
The Patriots reportedly only consider one team a serious threat to sign Brady, but he could be more open to the idea of leaving than many believe.
Tom Brady is now one month away from becoming a free agent for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, and there has been a lot of talk about him meeting with other teams and seeing what offers are out there. If he does that, however, he may be effectively bidding farewell to the New England Patriots.
Michael Giardi of NFL Network reports that Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ football operations people want to know Brady’s intentions before the official start of free agency. If Brady drags the situation out, it would place New England at a major disadvantage with being able to sign other players.
Let's try that again. On Tom Brady, football ops wants to know where his head is at before free agency, as they should. If Brady is inclined to leave, or draw this out (don't believe that's the desire) the #Patriots could find themselves handcuffed player acquisition-wise.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) February 18, 2020
The Patriots would have to absorb a $13.5 million dead salary cap charge if Brady is not on the roster when the 2020 league year begins on March 18. That is the same day teams can begin signing free agents, so things could get complicated if Brady is committed to visiting with other teams before making a decision. Although, there is a “legal tampering” period beginning on March 16 where players can negotiate with teams. If Brady does end up returning to New England, it’s possible he could speak with other teams in the two days before the official start of free agency and then still sign with the Patriots before the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. on March 18.
It makes sense that the Patriots want to know Brady’s intentions before free agency, as they don’t want to incur an unnecessary cap charge and/or be left without a viable replacement option. If Brady does plan to return to the Patriots, there’s no need for him to put them at a disadvantage with their salary cap situation. That would make it more difficult for New England to spend money on other players, and having an improved supporting cast is likely Brady’s top priority as he heads into his age-43 season.
Brady is probably already working back channels to find out what types of offers might be out there for him, and money is almost certainly not the most important factor. Unless he is committed to leaving New England, it would be beneficial for Brady to make up his mind before free agency. The Patriots reportedly believe that only one team is a real threat to sign Brady away from them, so they may not be all that concerned about having a decision from him prior to March 18.
The clock is ticking for the New England Patriots to work out a new deal with Tom Brady before the six-time Super Bowl champion hits free agency, but the two sides have yet to make any progress.
There has been “no movement” in contract negotiations between Brady and the Patriots, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported on Sunday. While Brady said after the season that there have been open lines of communication between him and the team, the two sides have yet to talk specifics and have not exchanged any financial figures.
The biggest issue with Brady’s impending free agency could be that the Patriots would have to absorb a $13.5 million dead salary cap charge if Brady is not on the roster when the 2020 league year begins on March 18. That is the same day teams can begin signing free agents, so things could get complicated if Brady is committed to visiting with other teams before making a decision. Although, there is a “legal tampering” period beginning on March 16 where players can negotiate with teams. If Brady does end up returning to New England, it’s possible he could speak with other teams in the two days before the official start of free agency and then still sign with the Patriots before the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. on March 18.
If Brady does plan to return to the Patriots, there’s no need for him to put them at a disadvantage with their salary cap situation. That would make it more difficult for New England to spend money on other players, and having an improved supporting cast is likely Brady’s top priority as he heads into his age-43 season.
The Patriots reportedly believe only one team is a true threat to sign Brady away from them, so they may not be all that concerned about having a decision from Brady before March 18. But at some point in the coming weeks, there will likely be at least preliminary contract discussions. If not, that is probably a bad sign for fans in New England.