If Tom Brady needs assurances of Bill Belichick’s team-building, then it might be time to move on

Andy Hart
February 24, 2020 - 11:45 am

If we are to believe recent information coming from seemingly tied-in reporters at ESPN and NBC Sports Boston, Tom Brady’s decision as to his football future in New England won’t have as much to do with dollars as it will sense.

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According to both outlets, Brady wants to get a sense between now and the first opportunity of his career to hit free agency on March 18 of how Bill Belichick plans to retool a Patriots team that was unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs on Wild Card Weekend. More importantly, it seems, Brady reportedly wants some sort of assurances that Belichick will surround the aging G.O.A.T. QB with weapons on offense that he deems more suitable and capable of on-field success in the passing game.

If these reports are true and not merely some continued long-con leverage play in this ongoing game of chicken, then it’s probably time for Brady to just move on from New England.

If Brady doesn’t trust Belichick’s ability or motivation to build a team and do, as the coach has so often put it, “what’s in the best interests of the football team,” then the most dominant, successful, winning relationship in the history of professional sports may actually be fractured beyond repair even as the two parties decide whether to begin a third decade working together.

After a year in which admittedly most of Belichick’s talent-acquisition efforts failed, Brady apparently wants to know Belichick’s late-February or early-March plan.

Even beyond the understandable reaction that the future Hall of Famer Belichick might have of “who the bleep are you to question my plans and motives?” comes the old issue that we all learned in literature classes studying “Of Mice and Men.” “The best-laid plans of mice and men…”

What if Brady had asked for Belichick’s plan a year ago at this time?

Would he have been satisfied with his coach telling him he intended to take a wide receiver in the first round of the draft for the first time in his two decades in Foxborough? Or that he planned to pursue multiple veteran slot receivers and a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end in free agency? Or that if a Hall of Fame target crazied his way out of another squad in training camp, he would go all-in and sell the team’s cap out financially for the risky signing? How about if he traded a second-round pick for a versatile, proven veteran receiver that Brady reportedly specifically wanted at the trade deadline?

Would Brady have been OK with that? Because it certainly sounds like a decent plan on paper in conjunction with Patriots passing game mainstays Julian Edelman and James White, no?

But, alas, we know none of it worked out very well. It is what it is. It happens. You may have heard a time or two that this talent acquisition thing is an inexact science. As Scott Pioli used to say, it’s not just collecting the best talent but finding a way to put together the best team.

While Brady may have his doubts, it would seem there is one thing that almost everyone in the outside football world – Belichick fans and haters alike – can agree upon: Bill Belichick pursues victory at almost all costs.

If Brady doesn’t believe that anymore, or doesn’t agree with the approach of the guy who’s helped the quarterback get to nine Super Bowls over the last 20 years and collect six rings, each bigger and blingier than the prior, then it’s over.

That’s like a husband asking his wife to convince him after two decades of marriage that she won’t cheat. If the doubt is already there, then any verbal argument against it probably isn’t going to suffice. The damage is done. The trust is lost.

In fact, in some ways, if anyone should be seeking assurances in this late-career showdown at Gillette Stadium between Belichick and Brady, it’s probably the head coach.

Belichick should probably be looking for evidence that Brady himself is still all-in on trying to win another title, not just extending his career to drive his TB12 business empire.

Is Brady willing to start going to voluntary OTAs again?

Is he open to working with young receivers in order to build a rapport that might actually equate to long-term production?

Is he still capable of looking down the throat of the pass rush and making plays, rather than avoiding pressure at all costs to throw the ball away?

Is Brady willing to put his body on the line for his team, for winning, or is he about protecting his body for his business purposes?

All would be fair questions for Belichick to ask at this point.

Seemingly far fairer questions than Brady asking Belichick if he’s going to try to build a winning team in 2020.

If Brady and Belichick don’t have a baseline level of trust in each other at this point, then it’s hard to imagine they can still have a successful future together.

In Bill We Trust?

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