Better a year too early than a year too late.
It's a formula that worked for Bill Belichick as head coach of the New England Patriots for the majority of his first 20 seasons, before Tom Brady shattered the mold last year by winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Should Belichick have bended to keep Brady around Foxboro for the remainder of his career? Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, now an analyst for ESPN, joined Early Edition on NBC Sports Boston Wednesday to offer his two cents.
"The easy answer is yes," said Bruschi, who spent his entire 13-year career in New England -- the final nine seasons with Brady and Belichick. "This is a special player and he deserves special consideration. But that's me."
Bruschi acknowledged that the reason Belichick has had success for so long is his ability to project, whether that's projecting how a team might play against him on any given Sunday, or how a player may perform down the line.
"I think he had this feeling of what happens to a quarterback when he's 43, 44, 45," Bruschi said. "Could anybody project what they could have seen from Tom Brady's season last year when he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl? It would have been extremely hard to do."
Bruschi himself never fell victim to a stunning personnel move from Belichick; rather, he retired in training camp in 2009. But he witnessed countless stunning moves through the years, from the release of Lawyer Milloy to the trade of Mike Vrabel.
He wishes allowing Brady to walk in free agency didn't have to be another one, but that's the way Belichick has been for more than two decades.
"I would like to have seen maybe Tom still being here, but the formula that is Bill Belichick, he projects. His formula was moving on from Tom Brady," Bruschi said. "You're talking about a man that doesn't change his ways. There's a formula that he believes in and he will stick to."