I have played enough Madden to know if I want to re-sign a player I actually have to offer them a contract, otherwise they're going to hit free agency and probably find a new team.
The shock is gone, the reality has set in, most Patriot fans are now ready to face the world without Tom Brady is there quarterback….. Well maybe they're not ready to face it, but they have to accept that Brady will no longer be leading the Patriots out onto the field at Gillette Stadium.
The overall reaction to Brady's departure was exactly like I expected. A lot of Pat's Nation had a meltdown. Some screamed at Bill Belichick about how awful he is. Some told Robert Kraft to fire him, with one creative Twitter user saying it's time to trade Belichick to Washington. The other half of the fan base we're doing nothing but criticizing the quarterback who has brought us 6 championships and called him a traitor.
I simply thanked Brady for his services, tipped my hat, and started thinking about who could replace Brady as the Patriots quarterback going forward, because this is New England, it's Patriots Way, it is next man up, even when that means replacing the greatest of all time.
I'm sure a lot of people are asking what went wrong this offseason, and how come, after 20 years together Bill Belichick and Tom Brady couldn't make it work? The short answer is I don't think that either of them wanted to make it work. Both men we're ready to move on.
First of all, if the Patriots were really serious about keeping Tom Brady on the team they never would have given him the opportunity to hit free agency. Bill Belichick could have easily extended him last season, given him two or three years and had him locked up for the rest of his career. The fact of the matter is, they gave him a pay bump last season, not because Belichick was feeling generous, but because they needed to move some salary-cap around and open up some space, and that's now left them with a $13.5 million cap hit starting tomorrow at 4 p.m.
Brady also made the stipulation that the only way he'd sign the contract is if the Patriots agreed not to franchise tag him this season. By agreeing to those terms the Patriots essentially told Tom Brady he was free to explore free agency, and by asking for that stipulation, Tom Brady told the Patriots "I want to explore free agency". It's actually that simple.
The second reason the negotiation went wrong is, Bill Belichick never made an offer to Brady.
Now I'm not a general manager, and I don't pretend to be a smart as Bill Belichick, but I have played enough Madden to know if I want to re-sign a player I actually have to offer them a contract, otherwise they're going to hit free agency and probably find a new team. The Patriots took a really kind of strange stance and we're waiting for Tom Brady to tell them what he wanted. Brady ultimately sat at home waiting for the Patriots to give an offer and that offer never came. The only logical reason that Belichick wouldn't offer Brady the contract is because Belichick didn't want to bring Brady back, there really isn't any other logical explanation.
I think we also have to face the fact that we don't know if Tom Brady wanted to come back to the Patriots. Brady was outwardly miserable last season, he was upset with his offense, and I'm not prepared to say that Brady has regressed or took a step back last season, but we did see him struggle to elevate his receiving Corps the way he has in the past. Clearly if Brady was going to return to the Patriots, Bill Belichick had to vastly improve his offense with no money to do it.
In retrospect we actually should have seen this coming on Monday when the Patriots use the franchise tag on Joe Tunney and essentially left them with no money to sign anybody, let alone offer Tom Brady an acceptable contract.
So at the end of the day, we can all remove our Patriots banners from our walls, use them to dry our tears, re-hang them, and get prepared for a season when we actually have no idea who the starting quarterback is going to be for the first time since 2001.
So what actually went wrong with the Tom Brady negotiations? I think the obvious answer is there was never a negotiation, and now we all have more questions than we have answers. sorry.