Sounds like it could be a long offseason for Tom Brady and the Patriots

Andy Hart
January 13, 2020 - 6:56 am

Apparently there was no what-are-we-doing-here epiphany for Tom Brady and the Patriots during the first week of their way-too-early offseason.

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In fact, if you listened closely over the weekend you got an indication that it could be a very long offseason for New England as the uncertain future of its future Hall of Fame quarterback hangs over the team.

In case you missed it, Brady continued his annual season-long series of Westwood One Radio interviews on Saturday night and, not surprisingly, was asked by contractually-connected pal Jim Gray about his football future and impending free agency.

“The contract things I think a week after the season, I would say these things haven’t even started to pick up," Brady said. “We’re a week removed from the end of our season. There’s a lot of time to figure these things out. I don’t think any player or team is ready to make any commitments at this point and I am sure as the offseason progresses those things will take care of themselves.”

While it may not be shocking to hear that Brady has no more clarity on his future now than he did a week earlier when Patriots coach Bill Belichick declared himself “not prepared” to talk about such issues facing his team as his two-decades-long leader’s status being up in the air, the continued uncertainty is rather telling.

To be clear, the only team that Brady can talk to right now or negotiate with is the Patriots.

And make no mistake, in the infant stages of maybe the most critical offseason in franchise history, Brady’s situation is without a doubt the biggest issue facing New England in 2020.

Brady’s status for the coming year is both a key in terms of philosophy and finances.

On a macro level moving on from Brady, as hard as it would be to fathom for many, would certainly be a franchise-altering shift. Some even see it as a ripping off of the Band-Aid with a focus on extending the Belichick-led dynasty.

On a micro level Brady’s contract – which could include $13 million in dead cap space or a new big-money extension, depending on how things play out – will have significant ramifications for the Patriots salary cap in the here and now.

But while figuring out Brady’s future is the key first step in the offseason process, it’s also just one of what Belichick himself described as “50” decisions that need to be made.

Top contributors like Devin McCourty, Joe Thuney, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and others are set to hit free agency. Like Brady, right now they are all eligible to negotiate only with the Patriots, a perfect time for possible extensions to be hammered out if the Boogeymen band is to be kept together in some form or fashion.

But until Brady, Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft find a way to come to some sort of conclusion regarding the G.O.A.T.’s future in Foxborough, the entirety of the offseason is going to be left in limbo. The longer Brady’s state of affairs drags out, the less time there is to address everything else.

In the immediacy of the loss to the Titans on Wild Card Weekend, it seemed Brady was at a career crossroads with three possible outcomes: return to the Patriots for season 21, shockingly don another NFL team’s jersey for 2020 or retire.

Over the last week, the latter option has apparently and definitively been removed from the list. Following an Instagram post directed at fans of Patriot Nation in which he declared that he still has “more to prove,” Brady explained exactly what that meant to Westwood One.

“I am at a certain point in my career where people think that what I am doing is to a degree impossible,” Brady told Gray. “For me, it is about continuing to prove to myself that I can lay it all on the line and we can still try and achieve the ultimate goal, which is winning Super Bowls.”

Will that challenge be chased in New England?

It doesn’t sound like Brady really knows right now.

That’s far from ideal, both for fans who want to see TB12 return to finish his career at Gillette Stadium or even for those few who might want to move on to new beginnings.

As long as Brady’s future is uncertain, the plans and future of the Patriots are just as massive an unknown.

Brady’s plight has the potential and power to hold the entire offseason hostage in New England. That’s bad news for everyone.

“As people begin to plan for next season, like I said, these things will take care of themselves,” Brady concluded.

But when? And how much damage will be done between now at then?

Buckle up Patriot Nation, it sounds like it could be a long offseason for Brady and the Patriots.

One way or the other, March 18 can’t come fast enough.

Related: Sunday 7: Patriots' offseason is all about 'In Bill we trust'