Tom Brady Sr. predicted a messy divorce between the Patriots and his son. That was five years ago.
He made the prediction based on how much longer the Patriots quarterback wanted to play, coupled with how Bill Belichick operates with players he no longer wants.
Brady Sr. was on to something.
Because right now, Belichick doesn’t want Tom Brady. Maybe he hasn’t uttered the words. But that’s the message his actions are conveying.
True or not, that’s what he’s not-so-subtly telling the Brady camp.
Playing hardball, and removing the emotion from all situations, that’s been Belichick’s mantra for “doing what’s best for the team.”
It’s part of why he’s been so successful. He’s ruthless and cold-blooded. That’s why kicking his six-time Super Bowl winner to the curb and treating him like one of the rank and file fits with Belichick’s profile.
Take the ESPN report that came out Monday, suggesting the Patriots are waiting for Brady to give them an offer, because the team already made its pitch in August. This reeks of Belichick being Belichick.
Maybe it’s business, but it also screams: “I don’t want you.”
Because the only thing accomplished by putting the ball in Brady’s court at this point, and suggesting the Pats offer was made seven months ago, does nothing but insult the quarterback. It serves to make him angry because all he’s getting is more of the same.
Sources telling the Herald the recent phone call between Belichick and Brady “didn’t go well,” reinforces that notion.
Brady is a pending free agent. He heads to the open market on March 18. Belichick should be giving him a number, laying the parameters for a new deal, and telling him why he wants him back, not the other way around. Brady wants a little respect. At the very least, he deserves that much from the head coach.
Instead, Belichick is reportedly sticking an old rejected offer in his face. He’s acting like this is an ordinary negotiation, instead of one with an NFL legend, someone he even refers to as an “icon.”
Maybe Belichick is calling Brady’s bluff, and doesn’t believe the GOAT has a market, and will come crawling back. He’s daring Brady’s camp to come back with another offer, because that’s essentially what Brady wanted by setting himself up for free agency.
So maybe it’s nothing more than business with Belichick. But if the intention is to keep Brady, why anger the quarterback to the degree he’ll leave no matter what? Why gamble Brady won’t find what he’s looking for elsewhere, if Belichick truly wants him back?
If he doesn’t, just tell Brady respectfully, thank him for two decades of unprecedented success, move on with life after the GOAT, and start the next phase with Jarrett Stidham or whoever. Forget the garbage.
Instead, Belichick drums up an August offer that was not the least bit enticing to a four-time Super Bowl MVP. Brady has wanted a long-term offer from the Patriots, in order to finish his career here. That’s been his preference.
Over the years, the team has had several chances to give Brady an extension that would allow him to play until he’s 45 — a goal he’s stated many times.
Only, the Patriots have balked, adopting the year-by-year mentality with a quarterback who is still playing well at an age most quarterbacks either fall off the proverbial cliff or retire.
Brady is certainly not playing up to his prime, but if he’s surrounded by a good supporting cast on offense, he still has the ability to lead a team to the Super Bowl. The Patriots know that, and so do other teams.
On SiriusXM NFL radio Monday, Titans wide receiver AJ Brown was asked about the quarterback position in Tennessee. He provided the perspective of a team in win-now mode.
“Of course we want Ryan (Tannehill) back.. I got chemistry with him,” he said, “but if things don’t go according to plan.... who wouldn’t want to play with Tom Brady?”
Brown didn’t stop there.
“He knows how to do it,” Brown said of Brady. “He’s won Super Bowls. I really want to be around him. Even if I don’t play with him, I just want to sit down and have a conversation with him, just try to pick his brain and see how he does things. If we’re fortunate enough to get Tom Brady this year, it would be insane.”
That’s right. Insane for the Titans. Nothing special for the Patriots.
The offer the Patriots made in August was for a reported $3 million raise and incentives similar to the ones Brady agreed to (and didn’t come close to hitting) in 2018. Not surprisingly, Brady wasn’t interested in revisiting the “incentive” route. That offer also didn’t guarantee future years. So he rejected it. Instead, he agreed to a salary bump to $23 million, with the caveat the Patriots couldn’t franchise him. He wanted more control over his future and final landing spot.
If Belichick is waiting to see if the new CBA passes — the vote was bumped back to Saturday — and will finally come up with a legitimate offer just before Brady hits free agency, why irritate the quarterback beforehand? Is it just because that’s how he always does business?
As it is, Belichick is going to have a short window to try and get a deal done — if that’s what the Hoodie truly wants.
Belichick should have an idea what Brady is seeking, or will command in the open market. That doesn’t take rocket science. It starts with the two-year, $50 million deal Drew Brees received from the Saints in 2018. Instead, he’s telling Brady to give him a number. The Patriots already made their pitch in August. Really?
At this point, if Brady hits free agency with a bad taste in his mouth, Belichick is gambling it’ll still work out — or doesn’t seem to care if it doesn’t. Right now, it looks more like he’s setting up an exit strategy, pushing back at Brady, and throwing blame in his direction. That’s the vibe emanating from the head coach’s office.
Will team owner Robert Kraft intervene? He could, but it’s not likely he’ll step in given he’s distanced himself from the proceedings, saying it’s Belichick’s call.
That brings us back to Tom Sr.
“It will end badly. It does end badly,” Brady Sr. told New York Times writer Mark Leibovich in 2015. “And I know that because I know what Tommy wants to do. He wants to play till he’s 70.
“It’s a cold business,” the elder Brady added. “And for as much as you want it to be familial, it isn’t.”