The clock is ticking for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who officially becomes a free agent on March 18. While Brady has reportedly expressed that “nobody knows anything” about his decision, many are speculating on what he’ll ultimately decide.
Does he want roster control? Is he looking for a strong offensive lineup? Or, is it the money he’s most concerned about? These are the looming questions when thinking about what team would be a best option for Brady, whether it’s New England or elsewhere.
Timing wise, the legal tampering period, in which free agents can begin discussions with teams, is scheduled to begin on Monday at 4 p.m., and free agency officially will begin on Wednesday at the same time. (However, given the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, some believe free agency could be “slowed down” as some teams are not “hosting players in the foreseeable future,” according to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, Jim McBride and Nora Princiotti.)
Still, Brady could announce his plans anytime starting next week. Here’s what experts are saying about Brady’s free agency decision:
John Breech, CBS Sports: “Apparently, any team that wants to sign Brady the quarterback is also going to have to agree to take on Brady the general manager. A player asking for any type of control over the roster is absolutely unheard of, but in Brady’s case, it actually makes a little bit of sense. Brady knows he only has one or two seasons left, and you can bet that he doesn’t want to waste away on a team that mismanages its roster. By demanding some roster control, Brady can push his new team to go out and acquire players who can help them win.”
Dianna Russini , ESPN: “Tamba Bay – they would love to have Tom Brady. “They are willing to give Tom Brady the things he needs, he wants. Some of things that [he] wants: control of the roster, he wants to be part of making decisions on the play calling…If you take a look at what [head coach] Bruce Arians has done in the past with Ben Roethlisberger, they both have been very public about how BA has let Ben call plays, so talk about a match made in Heaven in terms of that’s what Brady is looking for. If he wants control, Bruce Arians is the guy he should match up with.”
Adam Schein, NFL.com: “San Francisco checks every box for Brady. He grew up in the Bay Area as a big Niners fan. He experienced “The Catch” live and in person! Gisele and Tom will be a short flight from Los Angeles for work and Tom’s new production company — and they will be right near Tom’s parents. The Niners give him a better chance to win right now than the Patriots….
I think it’s a very realistic possibility that Brady leaves New England. Noted Patriots insider Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston told me last week on my SiriusXM Radio show that he thinks it’s 50-50 Brady departs.”
Dale Arnold, WEEI: “This is what I was told happened: There was a phone call between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. There was not a negotiation. There wasn’t a, ‘We will offer you a two-year deal at X number of dollars.’ What I was told happened was the Patriots told Tom Brady that all they can do is a one-year deal at less money than he made last year because of the $13.5 million that gets tacked onto the salary cap and basically, ‘What we’re going to be able to do here Tom, is a one-year deal, but it’s not going to be for as much money as you got last year.’”
Tom Curran, NBC Sports Boston: “It’s a very very remote possibility that he’s coming back to New England at this juncture…The Patriots are waiting for Tom Brady to tell them what they want, well that cuckoo, he’s a free agent [and] he’s not supposed to run to the team and say hey, ‘what’s it going to take for you guys to re-sign me. Here are the things I desire”…The Patriots since 2017 have shown no indication that they want to marry up long-term with Brady, he wants that security, he wants the feeling of being wanted.
I think long story short, the place he wants the most is Tampa Bay, and as much as people laugh about Tampa Bay and the fact that it’s Bruce Arians and they’re a middling team, they had 38 turnovers with Chaimers. That’s almost five games worth of freaking turnovers…Put [Brady] there, that team goes from 7-9, to 11-5, 12-4. He’s got Mike Evans, Godwin, Antonio Brown – [Brady] has maintained contact with him and has a soft spot for the guy. “
Mike Lombardi, The Athletic: “We have to qualify what were the odds going back,” he said. “I would say in October I thought he would stay with the Patriots, 95/5 — favoring the Patriots. I think by December I was at 75/25. I think January after that loss I went to 60/40, now I am 30/70 that he’s gone. Maybe even 20/80. I don’t get the vibe that it is going to happen.
I do know this. I think he has a strong interest and he said it the other day to Charlie Weis, and I respect what he said, ‘Nobody knows nothing’ and he’s right — but, I have a strong hunch, call it an instinct, call it something through the grapevine that San Francisco is in play…I say it is 20-80 that it happens, 20 percent it happens, 80 percent [that] it doesn’t. But, San Francisco is in play.”
“The sense that I get from talking to people is he’s probably not going to back to New England…The two teams that I hear the most [are], he’s intrigued by San Francisco [and] I also hear that Tampa Bay is really going to go hard after him.”
Mike Reiss, ESPN: “There’s two key questions here, Wendy, that remain: How far will Bill Belichick go financially, annually, and emotionally to try to keep Tom Brady here and the second question, how much does Tom Brady still want to be with the Patriots? There’s still working for the answers to those questions.”
At Gillette Stadium for a Patriots report on ESPN’s NFL Live.
* Air of uncertainty.
* Top questions remain unanswered: How far is Bill Belichick willing to go financially/annually/emotionally to bring back Tom Brady? How much does Brady want to return?
* Player reaction. pic.twitter.com/yZz2ZRzis3
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 10, 2020
“I was speaking with receiver Phillip Dorsett the other day and I said, ‘Have you been following Tom Brady’s free agent status? And his answer to me was, ‘Well how can you not!? Every time I turn on the TV, that’s all anyone is talking about…It’s going to be hard to envision in any other uniform but at the same time, he’s going to look out for his best interest.’ Then you talk to other free agents in Phillip Dorsett’s situation like Kyle Van Noy and Ted Karras and they say, ‘We sort of feel like maybe we’re on hold a little bit because we know the Patriots are dealing with Tom Brady first and foremost.’