Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants Tom Brady back, and he is willing to pay whatever is necessary to make that happen. Tom Brady seems to be in no rush at all to make that happen.
Ian Rapoport broke the news on Super Bowl Sunday that the NFL's more loathed team was willing to pay their most valued free agent up worth of $30 million per season to stay with the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady's free agency is the most intriguing and biggest story across the NFL right now, and Ian Rapoport believes that no deal will happen until after Brady becomes a free agent on March 18.
“I’m not sure they’re going to be able to sign him before free agency," Rapoport said on Week's Dale and Keefe show. "Like, to me, the way it works now is: There are almost no deals done before free agency. I mean, my guess is out of 150 possible deals there might be five before free agency. Where a team goes, ‘Look, we’d pay you this in free agency, we’re going to give it to you now.' I think some teams would do that. - "I have an extremely hard time imagining that Tom Brady, who made sure to include a no-franchise no-transition tag provision in his contract, who made sure he was going to get to be a free agent for the first time in his career, takes a deal two days before free agency. Why would he do that?”
The no franchise tag in Brady's contract is often overlooked. People recognize it exists, but more from a 'The Patriots can't use it stand point'. But, the significance of Brady adding it to his last deal with the Patriots shows some indication that maybe Brady wants to explore his options. He could still very well end up signing with the Patriots, but as Rapoport said, there's no point of demanding that clause if you didn't intend on taking advantage of it.
The thought of Brady signing with any team besides the Patriots has Pats Nation uneasy, and apparently it has New England's owner uneasy as well. Robert Kraft has referred to Brady as one of his sons, and Belichick showed great admiration for Brady during the NFL Network's Top 100 players special that aired throughout the season. It probably wouldn't surprise anybody that the Patriots owner doesn't want to see Brady wearing any jersey but the Patriots.
“To me, the owner makes decisions like this," Rapoport said. “From my understanding, the Patriots ownership, who writes the checks, is willing to pay Brady more than $30 million... This is not a situation where they’re gonna go, all right the most we paid you is $22.5 million or whatever it is, we’re sticking to that. This is something where they want Tom Brady to return, they think they can get him back, and they’re willing to go where they have not gone to do it."
In 2017 there were reports of tension between the Patriots brass. A lot of it stemmed from reports saying that Bill Belichick was ready to move on from Brady and go forward with Brady's backup at the time Jimmy Garoppolo. Apparently, Kraft vetoed Belichick and forced him to keep Brady and move on from Garoppolo. Belichick moved Jimmy G to the San Francisco 49ers for a second round draft pick. Garoppolo played in his first Super Bowl as a starter this year, and the Patriots went to back to back Super Bowls, winning one, since the trade went down. So far, the trade has worked out for both teams and players.
Rapoport says that there doesn't seem to be any tension around trying to retain Brady this time around, and as far as he knows, Brady and Kraft are on the same page when it comes to their 42 year old quarterback.
“I don’t believe that Belichick and Kraft are on different pages as far as what they’d be willing to pay Tom Brady. I have not heard that. It would be a surprise to me if that was true.”
The Patriots don't have a lot of salary cap room to play with, and NFL Insider Adam Schefter has somewhat disputed Rapoport's report and opinion.
“I don’t think they can do that,” Schefter said Wednesday on WEEI. “But OK, let’s not let facts get in the way here."
There is a lot of debate about what's going to happen with Brady this offseason, and until ink goes to paper, nothing is going to be clear. The other issue about trying to sort through all reports and opinions is, the Patriots and Tom Brady are historically tight lipped, and the odds that we would get anything worthwhile directly from one of the two parties is probably non-existent.