We’ve been anticipating these days for a long time now. Tom Brady is now a free agent, and can sign with any team he chooses. At some point this week we’re going to find out if all the signals and media reports over the past year were true, or complete rubbish.
At the moment, the market looks like a three team race, with the Bucs, Pats and Chargers leading the way. The Raiders were a team to watch, however they recently signed Marcus Mariota, which almost certainly takes them out of the running.
Bruce Arians and his crew down in Tampa Bay have made it crystal clear: They want Brady, and they’re going to do whatever it takes to bring him aboard. Whether that means $30+ million guaranteed per season, roster control, or game plan involvement, Arians is going to cave to each of Brady’s wishes and desires.
The Chargers’ level of interest is unknown at the moment. While they certainly have the weapons in the passing game to excite Brady, the offensive line is in shambles, and their coaching and defense is questionable at best. Not to mention they would be facing off with Patrick Mahomes twice a year.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the Patriots are making it seem like they’re indifferent about Brady’s potential departure. According to Adam Schefter and most recently Mike Giardi, the two sides haven’t really spoken, and are no closer to a deal then they were in August.
Does Belichick even want Brady back under any circumstances? Surprisingly, we don’t really know the answer to that question. The lack of dialog between the two parties is concerning, considering that Brady has the right to leave at this very second if he chooses. Originally, myself and many others believed that Belichick was just calling Brady’s bluff, and that he expected Brady to come crawling back and take their measly one year incentive-laden deal without the guaranteed money Brady covets.
Now? I’m not so sure that’s the case. Read the tea leaves. Belichick just gave Devin McCourty a big contract last weekend, and in a shocking move, placed the franchise tag on Joe Thuney, a fully guaranteed $14.7 million dollar price tag. Their cap space is dwindling by the second, and even know cap space can be created fairly easily, unless they make another move to shed salary, (or trade Thuney under the tag) they won’t have enough space to bring in both Brady and the “weapons” that he so deeply desires.
Paying big money to two guards (Shaq Mason makes $8.5 million per year), is what teams with young, cheap quarterbacks do. The Patriots likely cannot afford to pay Brady what he wants, at least at the moment.
Maybe it’s because Belichick knows Brady is long gone, and he’s operating under the assumption that he’ll have a new signal caller next year. Even so, if Brady was a lost cause, wouldn’t we see the Patriots showing interest in guys like Andy Dalton or Teddy Bridgewater? As of now, there hasn’t been any reported interest in any quarterbacks by the Patriots. Maybe Belichick is comfortable with Jarett Stidham going forward, but I find that hard to believe without ever seeing him play a meaningful regular season game.
There are a lot of moving parts at the moment when it comes to the Brady sweepstakes. As Diana Russini tweeted, the sense amongst team executives is that “nobody knows what Brady is going to do” If the Patriots can somehow pry Stefon Diggs or Odell Beckham Jr. away, would that be enough to make Brady sprint back into Gillette? Or is money and commitment the main factors for the soon to be 43 year old?
One way or another we’re going to find out. The games and media wars are finally coming to an end.
It’s time for good ol’ number 12 to put his money where his mouth is.