I'm ready to be lazy on one of the most important decisions in Patriots history: Just do what Bill Belichick wants.
Or, to sound like you for the last two decades, "In Bill We Trust."
It's the most we'll have put the phrase to the test -- even more so than the questioning of the Malcolm Butler benching -- but it should be a no-brainer. If Belichick wants to keep Tom Brady for another year, two or three, let him do it and try to fix the team's issues accordingly.
But if he's ready to move on -- and drafting potential replacements and letting him go into a walk year might suggest he's at least willing to risk it -- he should have carte blanche.
Belichick is the best coach in the league and will be the best coach in the league in one, two, three years. Brady's (deep breath) a good quarterback who used to be the best quarterback, but might have better days ahead of him before he eventually retires, at which point Belichick will still be the best coach in the league. We can have both Brady and Belichick over that time, but it has to be Belichick -- not Robert Kraft or anyone else -- who makes that call.
Did Brady seem particularly chipper on the field this season? No? Cool. Now imagine keeping Brady with this roster and having an overruled Belichick, too. Is it really practical from an ownership standpoint to piss off the two pillars of the organization in consecutive years?
Assuming he has everything he needs, Brady will be good next season, maybe even an MVP candidate. He's not as good as he used to be -- there is absolutely no question there -- but he's still the smartest quarterback in the league.
Provided he's got the weapons, he'll still be able to take advantage of defenses better than he did this year, when he could have been annoyed with anything ranging from his contract, to his receivers, to the "blame and shame media."
But is that here and with this group? If Brady thinks they were just a piece away last season and there's a move to be made for a tight end, the Patriots can work with that. Go make that acquisition (which they should do no matter what) and proceed with a quarterback ready to prove this season was a fluke.
You can't think that's the case, though. This was the guy who wanted Antonio Brown, then wanted the team to trade for Mohamed Sanu, both of whom the team acquired and neither of whom made an impact. So Brady also wants receivers, and most likely veteran ones.
Maybe Belichick likes what he's got at receiver. Maybe he thinks N'Keal Harry was a good pick who will be better with a full camp and preseason. Maybe he remembers that the young receivers fared better in preseason with Jarrett Stidham than they did with the understandably demanding Brady.
Now here's where the maybes stop: Belichick should definitely feel proven right for not giving Brady an extension like the two-year, $50 million deal Drew Brees signed a couple of years ago. Belichick didn't pay Brady like a top quarterback and Brady didn't play like one.
So does he want to pay Brady another $23 million (or more), in addition to the $6.75 million in dead money that goes against the cap if Brady comes back?
I don't know the answer, but if Belichick's as skeptical about it as I am, the Pats should say goodbye to the best player they've ever had.
You've said "In Bill We Trust" for years. Now's when you've got to ask yourself if you actually believe it.