Why is Tom Brady allowing this free agency media circus?

Andy Hart
March 04, 2020 - 9:02 am
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Only one person has the power to put an end to the seemingly endless speculation, reports and intrigue regarding Tom Brady’s impending free agency.

Listen to your team news NOW.

Only one iconic figure could possibly pull the plug on the feces funnel cloud of coverage that has been Brady Watch 2020.

That living legend is the guy at the center of it all -- Tom Brady.

Yet, that clearly hasn’t happened.

In fact, from Hulu ads toying with the fragile emotions of fans of Patriot Nation through Instagram Q&A sessions in which he picked but did not answer a query about his playing future, Brady has actually added fuel to the spreading forest fire of conjecture regarding what will be his 21st NFL season.

Even Brady’s latest Instagram ad for Molecule Sleep – “Please buy this mattress (or topper) because I said so and I will be really mad at you if you don’t.” – could be seen as a turning of the tables on Patriots fans who’ve urged him for months to do the right thing in their eyes and re-sign with New England.

If one didn’t know any better, one might even propose the possibility that – gasp – Brady is actually the master pulling the strings on the puppet show of reports through the media.

Let’s be honest, most of the unattributed, unsourced information regarding Brady’s future we’ve gotten over the last month or so feels like it comes from and benefits a singular party.

TB12. The G.O.A.T. Brady.

Eleven teams are interested?

Brady has options!

The Raiders are readying an offer worth more than $30 million a year over two seasons?

Brady is worth far more on the open market than he’s been making in New England!

Even a Super Bowl team with a supposed franchise quarterback like the 49ers is willing to sell out its long-term future and stability for a short-term shot at Brady?

Wow, franchises are lining up with more passion than those hungering for a Popeye’s chicken sandwich at lunchtime!

None of this feels like a Bill Belichick production, that’s for sure.

Belichick’s Patriots generally slow play these types of things under the cover of darkness, cold negotiations warmed by the cloak of secrecy. They’ve instructed agents over the years any leaks of contact could kill a potential deal. Asked Combine participants not to acknowledged even somewhat meaningless meetings with New England.

Massive moves like signing Stephon Gilmore or trading for Brandin Cooks are made before there’s even time for a smattering of speculation.

But this offseason, this negotiation with Brady has been nothing like that.

That’s because, it would seem, Brady is the one (or at least his “camp”) calling the shots and working to control the conversation. Or, more accurately, working to make the conversation almost uncontrollable.

With one simple Drew Brees-like Instagram post or Twitter message, Brady could end most of the speculation.

He could have played this offseason tight to the vest, keeping leaks in check by closing ranks on his “camp” or “inner circle” of friends, family and advisors. By pump-faking oncoming media members like he would an opposing pass rush, throwing the ball away to live another play.

But he didn’t and he hasn’t.

Why?

Maybe, as one NFL executive told The Athletic at last week’s Scouting Combine, Brady simply “likes the attention.”

Maybe he’s going through some preacher’s daughter/mid-life crisis rebellion after years of doing things privately, quietly and with everyone else’s best interests in mind.

Or, maybe this is all a professional sports media manipulation leverage-play aimed at nothing more than winning an ongoing negotiation battle with Belichick, who defies the idea of public negotiations at all cost. Beating Belichick at his own game is unlikely, so a different, drastic approach might be what it takes.

Tom Brady could have controlled the narrative this offseason regarding his future, playing his latest contract negotiations and free agency like he has done just about everything in the past – quietly and behind closed doors.

Or maybe Brady has indeed actually controlled the narrative this offseason regarding his future, playing the media like a well-tuned fiddle to suit his interests.

But to what end?

With the opening of free agency two weeks from today on March 18, we’ll soon find out.

Does Brady really have all these lucrative options that we’ve all heard all too much about?

Would it really be stunning if he returned to New England, as some would have us believe? (I can answer that now, no it would not!)

Is Brady’s camp working to fabricate a market that doesn’t really exist or is the 42-year-old truly such a hot ticket that he’d be crazy to turn down the opportunities and interest of free agency?

We’ll have answers, real answers, to these questions soon enough.

For now, we’re all left to speculate.

Seemingly exactly how Brady wants it.

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Related: NFL Exec.: Tom Brady ‘likes the attention’ heading toward free agency