The New England Patriots and Tom Brady are facing the very possible reality of the two sides ending their 20-year run of dominance this offseason as the quarterback is about to embark into free agency for the first time in his career. As we inch closer to the start of the new league year on March 18 and the legal tampering period beginning on March 16, a tidal wave of rumors of possible destinations for TB12 have already and will continue to flow through the NFL news cycle.
Given Brady’s stature of being arguably the greatest quarterback to ever suit up in the NFL, his every move will be put under the microscope, dissected and hot-take’d until he ultimately makes his decision on his future. We’d make the case that Brady clearly still has some magic left in the tank, but the only question remains is where those final years of Brady magic will ultimately take place. Of course, he could easily opt to re-sign with the Patriots when the dust settles, but there will be plenty of teams lining up with a pitch that they hope will be enough to pluck him out of Foxborough for good.
Hey, if Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre can all leave the teams they’re most recognized with, so can Brady.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to compile a hub for all the Brady-related news as free agency inches closer. Here, you’ll find every update on TB12’s movements, what he’s projected to earn on the open market, potential landing spots, and a lot more. We’ll start by breaking down Brady’s top landing spots, his projected contract value, and a brief scouting report on what he currently offers. After diving into that, we’ll provide the latest updates and rumors as they happen.
Top landing spots for Brady
Tom Brady is going to have a number of suitors waiting for him when he can legally speak to other clubs. After all, the team that ultimately signs Brady will immediately have a championship window open for them almost in a similar fashion to how Peyton Manning transformed the Denver Broncos back in 2012. Earlier this offseason, CBS Senior NFL writer Will Brinson highlighted all the possible landing spots for Brady this offseason, which includes these teams below.
Outside of heading back to the Patriots, the Chargers and Raiders have been the most heavily linked teams to Brady, while the Buccaneers were also dubbed a “sleeping giant” in the sweepstakes by NBC Sports’ Peter King.
Earlier this offseason, I ranked the possible destinations for Brady, strictly based off of what they have on their respective rosters and what they could bring aboard in free agency. In that ranking, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned the top spot thanks to their already in-house weapons of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard, along with their solid defense and a top-10 offensive line. It’s admittedly a stretch that Brady ends up moving to Tampa Bay, but they currently make an appealing destination simply due to their talent on the roster. The New England Patriots ranked fifth on that roster-based list.
Sleeper pick: The Giants (see below).
Projected market value for Brady
The folks over at Spotrac, one of the leaders in NFL contracts and salary cap information, have projected Brady’s market value this free agency period. They project that the veteran quarterback could see a contract offer that is for two-years and around $67.8 million, which equates to around $33.8 million annually. From an AAV standpoint, that deal would put Brady ahead of Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, would only be about $1.2 million above Brady.
Scouting report on Brady (pros and cons):
Efficient at getting the ball out quick (66.67 completion percentage with < 2.5 seconds in the pocket)Continues to keep turnovers at a minimum (eight interceptions in 2019) Can still play at an elite level with capable pass catchers around him (Patriots receivers had 34 drops in 2019, ranking second-worst in the entire NFL)Durable – hasn’t missed a game due to injury since 2008 Championship pedigree
Age/short window – Will be 43-years-old by the start of the regular seasonCan no longer carry a team solely by himself Immobile Starts to break down as the season progressesCBA discussions could be what’s holding up Brady talks
Thursday, February 27: ESPN’s Adam Schefter highlights that the current CBA discussions could be what’s holding up contract negotiations between Brady and the Patriots. A source told Schefter,”Without knowing about the CBA, that talk can’t happen.”
If the NFL and NFLPA come to terms on a new CBA, that could make things a bit easier in New England’s attempt to re-sign Brady. Under that circumstance, they would not have to follow the “30 Percent Rule,” which essentially would limit how much they could offer him in a new contract. A new CBA would also bring about the opportunity to once again attach voidable years onto Brady’s contract to make his cap hit a bit more palatable.
Patriots have still not reached out to Brady
Thursday, February 27: Hopes of a Brady reunion with the Patriots took a hit as Jeff Darlington of ESPN noted on Get Up! that he would be “stunned if Brady went back to New England.” Darlington has long been reporting the unlikelihood that Brady re-signs and now is citing people “very close” to the quarterback, who is telling them that a reunion “is not going to happen.” On top of Darlington’s report, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald notes that the Patriots have still not reached out to Brady and one source noted, “it’s not looking good.”
Combine buzz: Three teams connected to Brady, including the Giants
Wednesday, February 26: In one of the most surprising reports (or rumors, or whatever you want to call the combine scuttlebutt), the Giants were one of three teams named as a top suitor for Brady should he leave the Patriots in free agency.
NFL Network’s Michael Giardi, a former Patriots reporter, passed along an interesting nugget he gathered from league execs at the combine on Wednesday.
“The initial reaction has been, ‘There’s no way Tom Brady is leaving New England,'” Giardi tweeted from the Scouting Combine. “But as you dig deeper, execs/coaches/scouts see the Titans, Raiders, and Giants as possible suitors.”
As Cody Benjamin broke down, the breadcrumbs connecting Brady to the Giants date all the way back to January, and multiple reports prior to this one have connected the future Hall of Famer to New York. It can’t hurt that new Giants head coach Joe Judge comes over to New York from New England.
Patriots to meet with Tom Brady’s agent at NFL Scouting Combine
Tuesday, February 25: According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots are expected to meet with Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week. This is the time of year when agents start speaking with teams about their soon-to-be free agent clients, so this shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. This should be a good spot, however, for both sides to at the very least begin the conversation about what it may take to keep Brady in Foxborough.
Ninkovich believes potential Brady exit would hurt Pats in free agency
Thursday, February 20: Former Patriots linebacker turned ESPN NFL analyst Rob Ninkovich spoke with the Boston Herald about some of the impacts that a potential Brady departure could have on the organization. For years, New England has been able to attract free agents who are searching for a Super Bowl ring and sign them at a discounted rate. If Brady bolts, that could change, says Ninkovich.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” he told the Boston Herald. “Once Tom figures out what’s happening, and if he’s not a New England Patriot, do veterans, or other people in the past who say to themselves ‘I’m going to the Patriots to win a Super Bowl,’ still go?”
If Brady leaves, Ninkovich also believes it could impact a handful of other veteran free agents for the Patriots like Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy possibly not sticking with the franchise. As for what Brady may do, Ninkovich said he wouldn’t be surprised if Brady leaves to prove that he can win on his own.
Brady won’t give hints to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
Tuesday, February 18: During an interview with ESPN’s “Get Up,” Academy Award winning actor and Boston-native Ben Affleck revealed that he and fellow Bostonian actor Matt Damon actually texted Brady to try and see what his free agency plans are.
“Me and Matt texted him, ‘What’s the deal? You going or you staying?’ And this is what we got back: An emoji,” Affleck said, while mimicking a shrugging “I don’t know” shoulder emoji. “So I really have no information for you.”
Like most Patriots fans, Affleck admitted that he hopes and prays that Brady will remain in New England.
No nationwide free agency tour for Tom Brady
Monday, February 17: With only a month remaining until the start of free agency, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran reports that it’s unlikely that Brady will have a coast-to-coast free agent tour. Instead, Curran reports he’s hearing that the quarterback will “try to set up meetings at one location instead of creating a circus.”
Curran also noted that the Patriots will not be super-vigilant when it comes to tampering as they’re not worried about other team’s financial pitches. Really, they are focusing on building a roster on the offensive side of the ball that would entice Brady to return to Foxborough for 2020 and possibly beyond.
Raiders willing to go two years at $60 million?
Friday, February 14: According to Larry Fitzgerald Sr., a longtime NFL reporter, the Las Vegas Raiders are prepared to offer Brady a two-year deal worth $60 million. Of course, this report should be taken with a grain of salt as Fitzgerald Sr. isn’t exactly known for breaking NFL news of this caliber. Still, the Raiders will be a team that will certainly try to catch Brady’s ear when he hits the open market in mid-March.
Vegas has been a team — along with the Los Angeles Chargers — that has most often been linked to Brady as a possible threat to pry him out of New England. The Raiders could clear $13.6 million off their cap by cutting current QB1 Derek Carr, so they do have some flexibility to go after Brady if he’s willing to listen. That contract number floated out by Fitzgerald Sr. also jives with what has been rumored to be the magic number for Brady from an AAV standpoint.
Robert Kraft doubles-down on feeling towards Brady’s free agency
Monday, February 10: Patriots owner Robert Kraft was attending Elton John’s AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party and was asked once again what he hopes will be the outcome of Brady’s free agency. To that, Kraft simply said, “You know what I want.”
Clearly, he’s hoping that his six-time Super Bowl champion signal-caller to remain at the same post he’s been in for the past 20 years.
Julian Edelman begs Brady to return the Patriots
Tuesday, February 4: Patriots receiver, and longtime security blanket for Tom Brady, Julian Edelman took to social media to make his opinions clear regarding his quarterback’s free agency and did so in a rather comedic fashion. Edelman posted a photo from the boombox scene from the movie “Say Anything” with the caption “Baby come back,” while tagging Brady.
Edelman, who is signed with the Patriots through the 2021 season, caught 100 balls in 2019 for a career-high 1,117 yards and six touchdowns.
Ominous social media post was just a Super Bowl ad
Sunday, February 2: The internet absolutely exploded with conspiracy theories earlier in the Super Bowl week when Brady posted a rather ominous, black and white photo of himself in the tunnel of Gillette Stadium. There was zero caption to give the post any context, so many theorized he could foreshadowing a departure from Foxborough or something of that nature.
In the end, the post wound up being a piece of a Hulu commercial that aired during Super Bowl LIV. Brady jokingly teased retirement in the ad, but later said, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Raiders plan to pursue Brady in free agency
Sunday, February 2: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Las Vegas Raiders will pursue Brady if he becomes a free agent when the new league year begins in mid-March. Of course, there’s been plenty of speculation between Brady and the Raiders ever since the quarterback was spotted chatting with owner Mark Davis at a UFC event.
Schefter also added that the Patriots and Brady will come to a decision on his future well before the start of free agency.
Pats willing to pay $30 million a year to keep Brady
Sunday, February 2: According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the New England Patriots are intent on keeping Brady in Foxborough and are even willing to pay $30 million a season to do so. If this comes to fruition, this would be the highest the Patriots have paid Brady throughout the course of his NFL career. While the money would certainly be a selling point, putting weapons around Brady will reportedly be just as vital in the Patriots hopes to retain him.
Bucs dubbed the “sleeping giant”
Thursday, January 30: During an appearance on WEEI’s Dale and Keefe, NBC Sports’ Peter King highlighted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a “sleeping giant” in the race to land Brady in free agency. He highlights the weapons Tampa has in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as key reasons why it could work among other attractive pieces.
“Look, they have a pretty good offensive line and they’ve got two excellent receivers,” King said in part. “They’ve got a really good young tight end, and they have a very imaginative head coach and offensive coordinator in the passing game. I can’t tell you absolutely what they would do or what they are going to do, but I can tell you that they are fascinating to me because Bruce Arians isn’t coaching forever. I think he is one of those guys that all quarterbacks say, ‘Man, it would be cool to work for Bruce Arians’ because he’s such a fun offensive mind.”
Of course, it would seem odd for Brady to move into a lower-tier market like Tampa Bay, but, if he’s solely looking for a place to win a championship, this could be an intriguing option.
Gronk: Brady deserves to hit free agency
Tuesday, January 28: Tom Brady’s former teammate and retired tight end Rob Gronkowski was pretty candid in his remarks on the quarterback’s future saying that he’s earned the right to hit the market and field other offers from teams. While he has no direct knowledge of Brady’s intentions, Gronk felt it’s best for him to at least dip his toe in the free agent waters.
“But I truly believe that he deserves the opportunity to go explore — to see what’s out there. He’s been playing for so long, and just the way that he’s been playing — just the level he’s been playing at — he definitely deserves an opportunity to go out there and test the market.”
Joe Montana advises Brady to stay in New England
Monday, January 27: While speaking to NFL.com’s Michael Silver, legendary quarterback Joe Montana, who famously left the 49ers late in his career for the Chiefs, was asked what his advice to Brady would be.
“Don’t — if you don’t have to,” Montana said on Brady leaving the Patriots. “It’s a process to go through, and it takes time to get used to the team. I was fortunate because (former 49ers quarterbacks coach) Paul Hackett was there running the offense, and so I was pretty familiar with probably three-quarters of the offense going in. And, if they let him have his own offense (with a new team), yeah, that makes it a little bit easier. But still, the transition of moving …
“I just can’t see how they would let him leave there, myself.”
Derek Carr irked at speculation from Brady-Davis chat at UFC event
Thursday, January 23: Las Vegas fans were abuzz when an image of Tom Brady chatting with owner Mark Davis at a UFC event surfaced, but current Raiders quarterback Derek Carr seemed a bit salty towards the narrative of ousting him for Brady.
“I mean, there was a lot of quarterbacks at that fight,” Carr told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “And there was a lot of football players at that fight that are free agents. And it’s like, every time, with my job, it’s always a story. No matter what. And knowing some people that were around, I even know what the conversation was [between Davis and Brady], and it’s like, ‘C’mon, man, when’s it going to end?'”
Prepared to meet with other teams in free agency
Sunday, January 19: According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Brady is preparing to discuss his future with teams beyond the Patriots:
“It would be extremely surprising if Brady were to agree to any new pact with the Patriots prior to the start of free agency in March, I’m told, and while his process could still result in a return to New England it is far from certain at this point,” writes La Canfora. “Brady intends to take a methodical approach to his first foray into free agency, as, at age 42, this will be the final contract of his playing career.”
La Canfora added that Brady will simply look for whichever destination gives him the best chance to win a seventh Lombardi Trophy. Brady’s passion to continue playing has not diminished, reports La Canfora, and still anticipates playing until age 45. His report also notes that Brady would be “eager to take on the role of mentor to a young quarterback, no matter where he plays, hoping to leave an organization in good shape when he retires. Part of his legacy, he believes, could be tied to seeing future generations embrace the TB12 training and lifestyle regimen that Brady strongly believes has helped him play so long at such a high level.”
Tom Brady and his family reportedly move out of Boston area
Friday, January 17: Multiple reports came in that Brady and his family have moved out of the Boston area and are now staying in a new home in Greenwich, Connecticut. NBC Sports Boston’s Gary Tanguay reported that Brady was “embarrassed” by his compensation compared to other quarterbacks in the league and is likely to depart the franchise.
Brady’s Brookline, Massachusetts home was still on the market at that time.
Kraft hopes Brady either re-signs with Patriots or retires
Monday, January 6.: Patriots owner Robert Kraft opened up to NBC Sports’ Peter King about Brady’s pending free agency and admitted that he either hopes the quarterback stays in New England or walks away from the game entirely. Kraft also gave a window into Brady’s thinking prior to the 2019 season, noting that it was important for him to hit free agency.
“Before the season started, it was very important to Tom that he be free to do whatever he wanted at the end of the year,” Kraft told King. “You know what I said to myself? That any person who plays 20 years for this team and helps us get to six Super Bowls, and been really selfless, has earned that right. I love the young man like he’s part of my family. Blood family. Anyone who’s done that has earned the right to control his future after 20 years.”
Bill Belichick has no timetable for Brady decision
Sunday, January 5: Bill Belichick swiftly answered “No” when asked if there would be any sort of deadline imposed by the franchise for Brady to make a decision on his future. The Patriots head coach somewhat acknowledged the elephant in the room, but didn’t comment much further.
“I honestly, look, I know it’s out there like there are a lot of other things out there,” he said. “We could bring up 50 questions just like that one, and I told you what my state is on that. You can ask all 50 of them, and it’s going to be the same answer 50 times. We’ve been working on Tennessee. It’s 12 hours after the game. I’m not going to talk a lot of things about the future, because it’s not — I’m not prepared to talk about them.
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