As Tom Brady enters free agency for the first time in his career, more and more details are starting to spill as to why he’s even testing free agency.
Brady entered the 2019 season knowing that he was in the last year of his deal. So did the New England Patriots. However, the Patriots obviously didn’t feel inclined to lock up Brady to a contract past the 2019 season, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network previously reported.
While that lack of commitment has given both sides the opportunity to explore options entering free agency, that same lack of commitment is something that bothers Brady, according to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports.
“As we’ve reported, the biggest issue from Brady’s perspective is commitment on the part of the Patriots. He’s wanted an extension prior to the 2017 season. He never got it. The Patriots have preferred to go “year-to-year.”
In choosing that route, the feeling Brady’s gotten is that he’s somewhat of a stopgap until a better solution taking the team into the 2020s emerges. Meanwhile, the offensive talent around Brady has fallen off for a variety of reasons and he’s been left holding the bag.”
Brady’s Frustration Dates Back to 2017
As Curran notes, that source of frustration from Brady’s end has extended all the way back to the 2017 season. Instead of receiving that long-term extension — and commitment — from New England, Brady has been operating on a year-to-year basis.
Taking things a step further, Curran brings up the term “stopgap.” Considering Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion and arguably the greatest quarterback ever, the fact that the term is even a thought is something that is kind of disturbing.
Brady will be 43 years old this season. And while he did have a down year in 2019, he also did so with a less-than-dependable supporting cast.
Prior to this past season, the Patriots had been in the past three Super Bowls and had won two of them.
Because New England doesn’t have a reliable backup option at this point in time, they’ve backed themselves into a corner where it will be hard for them to win. They will likely have to bring back Brady with whatever salary demands he makes.
That is obviously the more favorable option. The worst-case scenario sees New England seeing Brady walk in free agency to an AFC rival such as the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers or Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots face what feels like a do-or-die free agency. And they have nobody but themselves to blame.
Patriots Allowed Brady to Test Free Agency for Flexibility
As noted earlier, Rapoport of NFL Network cited that the Patriots allowed Brady to test the market to give both sides options in the 2020 offseason.
“And from what I understand, Kraft’s thinking on this was basically if the sides came together, if Brady decided that the Patriots were his best option after testing free agency and if Bill Belichick, who of course is making the decisions for New England, if he decides that Brady is his best option at this price, then in the end after all of this, after going through everything, that it will mean that it’s basically meant to be and that it’s the best thing for all sides. Kraft wanted them to get apart, to see what’s out there and try to come together in the middle. And the hope is if that works out for 2020 that everyone will be happy they went through the process.”
The problem is, it’s become abundantly clear that the Patriots want Brady back for one more season. On the other hand, Brady’s best chance at winning another Super Bowl is probably with New England. But he also has a number of other suitors that are appealing options.
The Patriots will be entering this year’s free agency with more questions than answers. They can only hope that they do just enough to convince their franchise quarterback to return for one more season.