Sunday 7: Get ready for a big week of Tom Brady

Ryan Hannable
February 23, 2020 - 11:28 am
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1. The week leading up to the Super Bowl was all about Tom Brady and it’s likely this coming week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis will be similar. The entire NFL community — players, agents, executives, coaches, media — will spend the next week in Indy and it’s likely there will be some substantial rumors coming out regarding the 42-year-old quarterback. And we’re not talking about him buying property in Vegas or touring a private school in Nashville. With free agency beginning in less than a month, this is typically a week for agents to start doing some behind the scenes work for their free agents to be. Also, it’s a very relaxed setting, which usually allows for agents and executives to slip reporters a few nuggets of news. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear of a few more teams who will be showing signifiant interest in Brady if he indeed hits the open market and maybe get a better feel of what kind of money the quarterback will be looking at. With Brady having such a trickle-down effect on the quarterback market this offseason and just being the biggest free agent in the history of the league, expect plenty of conversations to be had and likely some of those to be leaked.

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2. One of these conversations could potentially be Brady and the Patriots. No, don’t expect Brady to show up in Indy and sit down with Bill Belichick at St. Elmo’s, but it’s getting to the point where there needs to be some dialogue between the two sides to see exactly where they are at. Perhaps Belichick and Don Yee speak for a little. Maybe Robert Kraft gives Brady a call. Who knows, maybe Belichick gives Brady a call. In the past, Belichick has allowed his top free agents to go on a free agent tour of sorts to see what the market is like, but he really cannot have that approach with Brady. If the Patriots sit back and allow that to happen, it could have them miss out on some options if Brady were to leave New England. Whether it’s at the combine or not, expect there to be some discussions between the Brady camp and the Patriots very soon.

3. Whether it is to appease Brady or just make the offense better, the Patriots need to add at least one solid wide receiver this offseason. Given the market and cap space available, it will be easier said than done. Belichick and Co. may need to get creative and start thinking of potential trades. Everything is on the table, too — the No. 23 overall pick, or maybe even a package of mid-round picks. New England has what it takes to pry a receiver away from another team — think Brandin Cooks from a few years ago. No matter how it gets done, it’s very likely Belichick finds a way to make a splash at wide receiver over the next month or two.

4. A very early look at the positions in the draft has the needs of the Patriots not exactly lining up with the overall strengths of the draft. Tight end, arguably the Patriots’ biggest need, is an extremely weak class. In fact, there isn’t a single tight end in the NFL Networks’s list of the top-50 2020 NFL Draft prospects. Wide receiver is the deepest position in the draft, potentially historic in terms of number of players selected in the first three rounds, but would the Patriots select another one high in the draft after taking N’Keal Harry in Round 1 last year? “In terms of the depth and the talent in this draft, wide receivers and corners, especially the wide receiver group, as deep as I've seen,” NFL Network lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on a conference call last week. “Really good at corner, really good at running back. When you look at some positions, maybe not quite as deep -- tight end, edge rusher and linebacker,  just a little bit of a shallow group there.”

5. For the last several years, there’s been a good amount of buzz with the Patriots in terms of quarterbacks in the draft. But, that just isn’t there this year. Could the team select a QB? Sure, but in all likelihood it would not be high in the draft. With no second-round pick and other greater needs on the roster, it just wouldn’t make much sense. Even if Brady were to depart, his replacement would be either Jarrett Stidham, or a quarterback with NFL experience. While there are a number of intriguing prospects at the position, it’s hard to project any of them to New England.

6. A lot has been made in the last few weeks of a few teams (Rams and Broncos) not sending their coaches to the combine. Instead they will stay back and review film and build their playbook. This really isn’t unusual at all, as there have been plenty of instances where the Patriots have not sent a number of their top coaching assistants — Josh McDaniels being one of them. Given the early playoff exit this past season, expect the majority of the Patriots coaching staff to be in Indy this year.

7. In terms of media access at the combine, Tuesday is the big day with a number of coaches and general managers talking in the morning followed by the quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers. The other positions will speak Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but Tuesday is by far the most notable day. Don’t expect anyone from the Patriots to speak, as Belichick and Nick Caserio are not on the preliminary schedule, which is quite normal.

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