Bill Belichick is apparently very tough to deal with during contract negotiations.
Former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, who played for the franchise for 10 years from 1995 until 2004, claimed that his former head coach plays hardball during contract negotiations.
Johnson recalled his own experience in dealing with Belichick during contract negotiations in the midst of his Patriots tenure.
When I first was being coached by Bill and had my first kind of issue with my contract, Bill reached out to me personally which usually does not happen. I was like, ‘Woah, OK, I have an agent.’ He was like, ‘Yeah I was going to call him.’ He wanted to gauge my interest and see how I reacted by him calling me.
Bill will nickel and dime. There was a year that I had — I played 15 percent of the plays the year before, and he came to ask me for a pay cut. He said, ‘Well Ted, you only played 15 percent of the plays.’ ‘Yeah, Bill, did you know I broke my foot in Week 1 so I missed the next 10 games?’ He doesn’t care about that stuff. So it is hardball, he doesn’t care, he will use the stats against you, and won’t factor in all the things that went into those poor stats. He’s not going to blow you away with an offer.
He’s going to make you sweat it out and make you think, ‘Do I really want to leave what I’m comfortable with, or stay here and take less than what other people would offer?’
Could Belichick Play Hardball With Brady During Negotiations?
This doesn’t exactly come as a shocker. In years past, Belichick has been known to allow players to walk when they want slightly more money. Wide receiver Wes Welker was a prime example of this when the Patriots and Welker were $1 million apart in contract negotiations.
Needless to say, New England eventually moved on from Welker despite the fact that he was a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro up until that point.
The reason Belichick’s tendency to be frugal comes into play is because the Patriots face their biggest offseason in years. That would be because Tom Brady — the team’s franchise quarterback over the past two decades — is finally entering free agency for the first time in his career.
While it has been previously reported that the Patriots are willing to extend themselves and offer Brady upwards of $30 million annually, it has also been reported that it will ultimately be Belichick’s decision whether or not he actually returns to New England.
That could mean that if Belichick decides that Brady’s asking price is too high, the Patriots would move on from Brady.
Considering Johnson’s story of Belichick’s nature in contract negotiations, that has to be a scary thought for Patriots fans.
Raiders Ready to Offer Brady $60 Million?
Mike Florio of NBC Sports — who has a track record of reporting breaking NFL news — is inclined to believe Fitzgerald’s report.
If it is true, we’ll see if the Patriots really are willing to offer Brady more than $30 million per season. They may have to do it to keep him away from Las Vegas.