Don't dismiss prospect of 49ers signing Tom Brady in free agency

Don't dismiss prospect of 49ers signing Tom Brady in free agency

A funny thing happened after I told SIRIUS radio host Adam Schein on Tuesday that the San Francisco 49ers were “closing hard on the outside” in the Tom Brady Sweepstakes.

People who KNOW THINGS reached out to say, “Do NOT back off of that…”

I was half-joking when I initially said it. Schein asked me where Brady would end up, I guessed, “Fifty-percent chance to the Patriots, 50 percent chance to the Titans ...”. That’s 100 percent.

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I tossed in the Niners because Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and NFL Network’s Deion Sanders had separately spitballed on the possibility of Brady landing in San Fran with Jimmy Garoppolo landing back with the Patriots.

When what I said gained traction, my first thought was, “Nice work, dummy. You dropped a match into a pile of dried leaves. Start stomping on the flames.”

But then came the people telling me they were hearing the same thing. And people I didn’t speak to directly — like the estimable Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald — reached out to their sources and got back opaque confirmation that, “Yeah. There could be something there.”

None of this chatter indicates the Niners are camped outside the office of Brady’s agent Don Yee waiting for the legal tampering period to start so they can make their pitch.

It’s flimsy. But it’s persistent. Why?

First, Brady would love to play there. Second, as much as Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan likes Garoppolo, I’ve been told by multiple sources that he’s got some reservations about Garoppolo’s ceiling and overall decision making.

Enough to use the emergency exit the Niners built into Garoppolo’s contract? That would be a bold move. But ask yourself: Why is the option to move on from Garoppolo with minimal penalty even there? Just in case? In case of what?

In case the chance for an upgrade exists.

Then you get to the questions that Shanahan, GM John Lynch and owner Jed York would have to address.

Is Brady an upgrade at 43?

Would it be wise to move on from Garoppolo, court Brady and hope that Shanahan’s first love — Kirk Cousins — can be landed to succeed Brady?

Would the Niners locker room embrace it?

Would the Niners cut a good quarterback — which Garoppolo undeniably is — with manageable base salary numbers and cap hits if they didn’t KNOW they would get Brady?

Would they try to deal Garoppolo to the highest bidder or do the Patriots a solid by sending him back to Foxboro the way Belichick did Shanahan a solid in 2017?

And if the Niners cut Jimmy, would Yee want to see Garoppolo go back to the Patriots?

The only way this whole scenario works — a place for Tom is cleared and Garoppolo returns — is if the Niners dealt Garoppolo back here.

That’s ... a lot. But Brady to San Fran?

"I have spoken to executives with eight different teams that are at the very least monitoring Tom Brady's free agency," ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said Wednesday. "They are going down this list having internal discussions right now saying, 'Is this the right fit for our organization?' "

The 49ers are among the eight. They are not among the four teams that Darlington suggested would — if the opportunity presented itself — sign Brady tomorrow.

It’s important to note, this Darlington report isn’t people from “camps” talking about what they think the market for Brady is. It’s executives from specific teams expressing varying levels of interest in Brady.

Turns out, it’s real. Who knew?

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Patriots' Devin McCourty: It's 'an absolute joke' NFL is changing opt-out deadline

Patriots' Devin McCourty: It's 'an absolute joke' NFL is changing opt-out deadline

Devin McCourty didn’t hold back on a Sunday afternoon video conference with New England media.

The Patriots veteran safety took no questions during a six-minute session, choosing instead to make an impassioned statement about his belief that people need to stay attuned to the equality problems in the United States.

McCourty pledged his support for the cause of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police when a shootout began after authorities burst into her home with a “no-knock warrant.”

McCourty also spoke about healthcare inequities, the “digital divide” underprivileged students face because some don’t have access to technology and the internet for remote learning, efforts to reach out and listen to minorities involved in law enforcement and the need for the NFL to have more diversity in coaching and personnel.

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McCourty then took aim at the league for reportedly trying to move up an agreed-upon deadline for players to “opt out” prior to the 2020 season.

A source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, “Teams are concerned that some players who think they won’t make the team are choosing to opt out and to take the six-figure stipend." While players apparently would owe the money back to the teams if they fail to make the roster in 2021, no team wants to have to chase a former player around next year in an effort to retrieve $150,000 or $350,000.

“Another concern comes from an issue we’ve previously flagged: Some agents, per the source, are using the threat of an opt out as leverage to get their clients new contracts.”

“It’s an absolute joke that the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don’t want to continue to see guys opt out,” McCourty said. “I’m sure they’re shocked about how many guys have opted out. But it’s the same thing when we sign the CBA, sometimes some of those things that we think are good, sometimes backfire. You know, we have rookies who are locked in long-term contracts and tagged and tagged. You guys don’t think we would love to change that about the CBA? But we can’t. That’s the point of signing an agreement.

“So I think it’s terrible. I think it’s BS that the league [wants to change] that date.”

So far, eight Patriots have opted out. The latest was tight end Matt Lacosse who reportedly opted out Sunday. Wide receiver Marqise Lee also opted out this weekend.

McCourty seemed to indicate he was still mulling his ultimate decision. Separately, he explained to me that – if he did want to opt out for family reasons at any time – the passing of an opt-out deadline wouldn’t prevent him from doing so.

McCourty encouraged players to understand the power they have right now.

"Monday will be our first day in the building, so to try to act like guys are trying to make a decision about something other than virtual meetings is a joke," he said. "When players understand how much power we have, we've seen things change for us; primarily even with this deal, with the COVID-19 and trying to get everything back. We saw some of that strength. Hopefully we'll see how everything turns out come Wednesday, if it ends up being the deadline.

"I support guys no matter what they decide, but I'm still out here having fun and figuring things out. So we'll see how we go."

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a host of changes to the CBA to get through the 2020 season but those changes have not been finalized. The opt-out deadline was supposed to be a week after the deal was done. Because of the delay getting it done, the opt-out deadline keeps moving further down the road.

And the concern from some teams seems to be that a player who’s destined for the bubble may see the writing on the wall and opt-out. It’s a cynical concern but it’s also not beyond the realm for a player who was already on the fence about playing and then realizes he’s a longshot.

The other concern according to Florio is players threatening to opt out if they’re not given a new deal. Florio pointed out he hadn’t heard of that happening but he noted, “For plenty of players, a significant bump in compensation could be the difference between opting out and opting in.”

Objectively speaking, players and coaches are the ones taking the personal medical risk. Owners aren’t. For a key player to say, “What will you do to make it worth my while? What’s the additional hazard pay?” is not that absurd.

NFL players don’t often use their leverage. McCourty, it seems, is hoping they start to.

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

The New England Patriots will begin training camp with three players on the physical unable to perform, or PUP, list. 

Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, running back Sony Michel and special teams standout Brandon King all have been placed on the PUP list, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

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Sanu had offseason ankle surgery in March. He suffered the ankle injury in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and it prevented him from playing at a high level for the remainder of the 2019 season. Michel had foot surgery in May. The 2018 first-round pick had a disappointing sophomore season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. King missed all of the 2019 campaign because of a torn quad. Therefore, it's not too surprising that these players have landed on the PUP list.

In Sanu's case, he's been working pretty hard over the offseason to get back into optimal shape. He's posted several workout videos on Instagram, including some sessions that included newly signed quarterback Cam Newton.