Patriots

How coaches, GMs are reacting to Tom Brady's free agency at NFL Scouting Combine

How coaches, GMs are reacting to Tom Brady's free agency at NFL Scouting Combine

The future of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a hot topic at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

This event gives teams a great opportunity to scout the best players in the upcoming NFL Draft in both on-field and off-the-field settings. However, amid all of the talk about the next generation of star quarterbacks, a 42-year-old veteran also looms large.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Brady is able to test the free agent market in March for the first time in his career. He's arguably the greatest player in pro football history, and even at this later stage of his career, he'd still be an upgrade at quarterback for many teams.

Here's a look at how head coaches and general managers of teams that could be potential landing spots for Brady in free agency are reacting to questions about the six-time Super Bowl champion's future.

Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers, after 15 years of being the starting quarterback of the Chargers, will test free agency and not return to the franchise. This situation opens the door for the Chargers to bring in a veteran like Brady or use the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to find a franchise quarterback.

Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers could be in the market for a quarterback with starter Jameis Winston hitting free agency. Winston became the first player to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and at least 30 interceptions in the same season in 2019. 

Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins aren't close to being a Super Bowl contender, but they do have almost $90 million in salary cap space at their disposal. Brady also knows Flores well from their many years together in New England. 

Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a popular landing spot pick for Brady, but Tennessee might not even need a quarterback if it re-signs Ryan Tannehill. He's set to become a free agent after leading the Titans to a 7-3 finish in the regular season and a run to the AFC Championship Game that included upset wins over the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

John Elway (general manager), Denver Broncos
Drew Lock was pretty impressive to end the 2019 campaign, so it makes sense for the Broncos to build on that success entering his sophomore season. He has the potential to be a franchise QB.

Chris Ballard (general manager), Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer signed through next season. 


Perry: Will Patriots opt for mobile QB if Brady leaves?

2020 NFL Draft: Searching for Gronk's replacement in Patriots 7-round mock

2020 NFL Draft: Searching for Gronk's replacement in Patriots 7-round mock

Let's get this out of the way: It's not a great time to need a tight end in the draft. Relative to other years, at least.

Last spring there were two surefire first-rounders, both out of Iowa: T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. In 2018, only one tight end went in the first (Hayden Hurst), but two taken in later rounds (Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews) are among the game's best young players at the position. O.J. Howard, Evan Engram and David Njoku all went in the first in 2017.

This year there's a "massive drop" in terms of tight end talent available, one league source told me this week.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Not ideal for the Patriots, who could use an infusion of tight end talent perhaps more so than any other team in the NFL. And yet we have them selecting two in this year's class. Reach much? How does that make sense?

Well, just because this class doesn't have multiple high-end talents at that spot, that doesn't mean it's completely devoid of players who fit the New England mold. You'll see how it all comes together in our latest seven-round Patriots-specific mock.

Click here for Phil Perry's 7-round Patriots mock draft, Version 2.0.

Jonathan Kraft shares inside story of Patriots plane bringing masks from China

Jonathan Kraft shares inside story of Patriots plane bringing masks from China

The New England Patriots, owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft teamed up with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to transport over 1 million N95 protective masks from China to the United States on Thursday.

That's the headline. But there's a whole lot more to the story.

Jonathan Kraft joined 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday to share more details on the elaborate, multi-day process that led to the Patriots commissioning their team plane to bring much-needed supplies back to Massachusetts to aid health care workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

According to Kraft, the plan all started when Baker called him while he was in a virtual meeting with the Massachusetts General Hospital finance committee. (Kraft is a member of the MGH Board of Trustees.)

"The governor said to me, 'I am so ---ing frustrated. ... I have had a couple of big batches of PPE (personal protective equipment), and at the end of the day they just haven't come through,' " Kraft said.

"And (Baker) said, 'We just through a third party secured well over 1 million masks, N95s, in China. But we have no way of getting them here. The supply chains are totally frozen. Do you think people who have airplanes would be willing to fly over?"

That's when Kraft had the idea to use the Patriots' team plane, a wide-body Boeing 767 that's bigger than most commercial jets.

"I said, 'You know what, our team flies around on a 767 ... and we have a huge cargo hold on that," Kraft told Baker.

Fast forward to this week, when the "Air Kraft" was en route to China via an overnight stop in Alaska. But a host of logistics had to be worked out before then, from getting special permission from the FAA to fly a "humanitarian mission" to securing a safe landing zone in China -- to making sure the plane was ready for a such a long flight.

Listen and subscribe to Phil Perry's Next Pats Podcast here: 

"First, we had to make sure the plane was equipped with the right software. It needed one upgrade," Kraft said.

Once the plane landed in Shenzen, China, there was another logistical challenge: The plane could only be on the ground for three hours, and no one could leave the plane during that period due to concerns over contracting the virus.

"If we had a maintenance or a tech issue, our maintenance or tech guys couldn't have gotten off the plane to correct it," Kraft said. "Once the pilots left the plane, they would need to be in quarantine for 14 days."

What followed was a three-hour rush to load roughly 1.2 million masks onto the Patriots' team plane that was barely completed in time.

"It was like a NASCAR pit stop," Kraft said. "Fortunately we didn't have any mechanical issues, and we got it done with about three or four minutes to spare and got back in the air for what was a nine-hour flight back (to Alaska)."

That's just a sampling of the details Kraft shared about the incredible trip, which ended successfully Thursday night when the Air Kraft landed at Boston's Logan Airport. (Kraft's full interview is worth a listen.)

But the journey ultimately was a success, and Mass. health care workers are certainly grateful as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb.