Patriots

Patriots reportedly tried to extend Tom Brady before 2019 season

Jeff Howe reported the two-year deal would have been worth $53 million, but Brady turned it down and opted to test free agency at the end of the 2019 season.

Patriots Bill Belichick
Tom Brady (left) with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at a practice. Globe Staff
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As Tom Brady prepares to return to Gillette Stadium for his first-ever game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, the sentiment that head coach Bill Belichick ran Brady out of town has been a prevailing one leading up to the weekend.

Belichick has found himself parrying questions this week from the media about why his desire to keep Brady seemingly waned and why the Patriots didn’t do more to keep the now seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback in Foxborough.

But The Athletic’s Jeff Howe suggests the narrative that Belichick pushed Brady out of town may not be entirely accurate.

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In an appearance on NESN After Hours with Cealey Godwin, Howe provided details about a multi-year contract the Patriots reportedly offered Brady just after New England won its sixth Super Bowl with him at the helm.

“The Patriots offered him two years and $53 million in training camp in 2019, and Brady turned it down,” Howe said. “He ultimately took what amounted be a raise of several million, and it gave him an out to leave the Patriots after the 2019 season.”

Without knowing the fine print of that supposed deal, though, it’s hard to know exactly what it would’ve meant for Brady.

The raw numbers of Brady’s eventual 2019 contract agreement suggested he’d received a two-year, $70 million extension and boosted his 2019 salary from $15 million to $23 million. But a closer look at the numbers showed Brady essentially just got a one-year raise without any real future commitment because 2020 and 2021 were both “void” years in his contract.

What’s more, he was all but assured to become a free agent because he asked for a contract that would prevent New England from franchise or transition tagging him.

As such, it’s not hard to imagine the two-year, $53 million deal might not have been as sweet as it sounds.

Then again, Howe’s assertion of the Patriots’ interest in keeping Brady goes beyond the dollars.

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“Again, I think too many people are looking at this and saying that the Patriots kicked him out the door, they didn’t set him up for success,” the insider explained. “You look going into that last year, Belichick drafted a receiver [N’Keal Harry] in the first round. He signed Demaryius Thomas. He signed Antonio Brown. They brought in the guys.”

Of course, as Howe also notes, none of those players worked out for the Patriots.

Harry, now in his third season with the team, has yet to contribute meaningfully with New England and hasn’t played this season after landing on injured reserve during the preseason.

Thomas never played a regular-season down for the Patriots; he was traded to the New York Jets before the 2019 season started.

Brown, a simply disastrous signing for reasons that had nothing to do with football, lasted just one game in Foxborough.

But, as Howe said, “the effort was there” from the Patriots to keep Brady in town. “Tom Brady just didn’t want to stick around.”

That part can’t be denied. How much criticism Brady deserves for that, though, still isn’t clear.

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