It's hard to imagine the New England Patriots going into a season without Tom Brady as their starting quarterback, and I'm sure it's just as unimaginable for Robert Kraft to think about.
We all remember the stories that broke in 2017 when it was reported that Bill Belichick wanted to move on from Tom Brady after that season and go forward with Jimmy Garoppolo. The rumours will tell us that Tom Brady went to Robert Kraft who then forced Belichick's hand to keep Brady and move on from Jimmy G. Kraft of course denied those rumours, going as far as calling the reporting a flat out "lie." I don't think we're ever really going to know what actually happened in October of 2017, but I highly doubt that Robert Kraft had nothing to do with that situation.
Fast forward to 2020, Tom Brady is about to hit free agency for the first time in his career, and there's a feeling around New England now that Robert Kraft will not get involved in the negotiations. Apparently the final call will be completely up to Belichick, and frankly it should be.
"Real negotiations have yet to begin" between the sides and "Kraft will not intercede despite his long-stated preference that Brady retires a Patriot. "Kraft opened the door for Brady to decide his future when he agreed the Patriots wouldn't use the franchise tag on Brady in 2020. The owner is similarly committed to letting Bill Belichick decide the football future of the team." - Tom E Curran, NBC Sports
It's hard to imagine the New England Patriots going into a season without Tom Brady as their starting quarterback, and I'm sure it's just as unimaginable for Robert Kraft to think about. Brady's been the face of the franchise since the Patriots won their first Super Bowl back in 2001 after beating the St Louis Rams. Brady and Belichick combined to go to eight more Super Bowls after their first, and they won five of them. The Patriots transformed their image as the scrappy underdog to one of the most hated teams in the National Football League.
So I don't think that anybody could blame the owner if he did want to give a directive to keep Brady, but at the end of the day Bill Belichick has control of the football operations, and the responsible thing to do is entrust the man who you have trusted for the last 20 years to make the decisions that are best for the football team.
It's hard to figure out exactly what is going on with Brady and the Patriots. Over the last week or so we've had a lot of conflicting reports, the Boston Herald reported that Brady and Belichick have spoken and it didn't go well, but minutes after the article was released Adam Schefter disputed those claims saying that conversations Brady and Belichick have had has been "business as usual". What does business as usual mean? The truth is we have no idea, and just like Brady said to Charlie Weis, "Nobody knows anything."
There have been lots of teams linked to Brady, and it's obvious that he does have a market, but I don't think it's as strong as it was originally reported. News broke last week that New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts are both out on The Brady sweepstakes, at least that's their public position. The Las Vegas Raiders seem like the likely Place Brady would end up if he were to leave New England, but now, new reports have emerged that they are not prepared to go all in on Brady as it was originally reported,and that they are more than comfortable moving forward with Derek Carr as their quarterback.
That leaves the LA Chargers as legitimate contenders for Brady, and if you want to believe the craziest story out there, there's also the possibility that Tom Brady could end up with the San Francisco 49ers, even though I think that that's the least likely place the soon to be forty-three-year-old GOAT will play next season.
I think that it would be totally understandable if Robert Kraft was tempted to try to force Bill Belichick's hand to re-sign Tom Brady, I'm sure that Kraft would love to keep reliving the magic that the dynamic duo has created over the last 20 years. We also know that Kraft looks at Brady like he's one of his sons, so it would probably be very difficult for Robert Kraft watch Tom Brady play somewhere else. It's probably just as difficult as it would be for a Patriots fan to watch Tom Brady wearing a different Jersey, but there's no denying that Tom Brady's approaching the end of his career, and Belichick can't hemorrhage the future for the present.
"Brady will be 43 by the time the 2020 season begins, and his 2019 season wasn't great. Take away the 2016 season (when Brady was suspended four games) and the 2008 season (when he played just one game before tearing his ACL), and his passing yards (4,057) were the lowest since 2010, his passing touchdowns (24) the lowest since 2006 and his completion percentage (60.8 percent) the lowest since 2013." - Timothy Rapp, Bleacher Report
The Patriots and Brady are in uncharted territory right now, and unfortunately when you look at all the possible scenarios there are more negative outcomes and there are positive ones. When you think of the nightmares that could happen in the Tom Brady free agency this season, we could end up seeing Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl wearing a different team's Jersey. We could watch Tom Brady go to a team like the LA Chargers and look like Philip Rivers last year, which would be heartbreaking to see. Brady could sign with the Patriots and could be a shell of his former self, with the only really positive outcome being Brady re-signed with the Patriots and playing like the guy he always has been. I'm not believing that one of these scenarios takes precedence over the other or that I think it's going to go a certain way, this is just the reality of the situation.
I'm still of the mind set that the best place for Brady to re-sign is New England, and I do believe he will be a patriot in 2020. My hopes is that Belichick and Brady can sit down, Brady can say what he's looking for, Belichick is able to lay out his plan about how he's going to find some more offensive weapons for Brady, and the two of them can go back to making magic the way they always have.
But I'm also prepared for Brady to move on, and if that's what he decides to do then that's what he does. I don't think that Patriot fans can be upset with him if after 20 years if he decides he wants to try to play somewhere else, because he thinks he has a better chance of winning the championship. I don't think that any Patriots fan should be trash-talking him, but I can admit it would surely be strange talking about the Patriots and not talking about Tom Brady.