Patriots

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Tom Brady is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 20-year NFL career. While the legendary quarterback could return to the New England Patriots in 2020, there's no guarantee that he will.

If Brady doesn't return, the Patriots will have a number of ways to address the quarterback position. They could target a free agent passer in one of the strongest free agent quarterback classes ever. They could spend a draft pick on one in a strong 2020 quarterback draft class.

Or they could roll with the only other quarterback option they currently have on their roster, 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham.

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.

Stidham spent his rookie season backing up Brady and played a grand total of 15 snaps for the squad. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and threw an interception in that action.

Despite his relative inexperience, Stidham would theoretically be the next man up at quarterback if Brady leaves. But moving forward, he isn't thinking a lot about Brady's impending free agency. He's more focused on what he can do to improve heading into his second year.

"Right now, I can't really think too much about [Brady's free agency]. I have to worry about what I need to do to prepare to enhance my game, to learn as much as I possibly can," Stidham said per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "That's the biggest thing I've focused on, making a big stride from Year 1 to Year 2."

That said, Stidham did call his time learning as Brady's backup "priceless" and said that Brady is "phenomenal" in all facets of the game.

"He's a phenomenal teammate, a phenomenal person, obviously a phenomenal player," Stidham said per Reiss. "There was just so much that I got to learn from him. He was obviously very open to me about stuff that he's thought about the game of football, and stuff like that. It was great. I can't speak highly enough of that guy."

Perhaps Stidham's time learning from Brady has served him well. After all, Patriots fans haven't seen him in action since Week 7 and Phil Perry reported that Stidham was impressing his teammates and coaches alike in late-December.

But is he ready to be a starter? The Patriots moves this offseason will surely tell us more about their thoughts on that.

The Patriots won't definitively know what Brady's plans are for 2020 until he puts pen to paper somewhere. In the interim, it's at least encouraging that Stidham is putting in the effort behind the scenes to improve after spending a year learning from Brady. 

Why an ESPN reporter is convinced Tom Brady will leave Patriots

Why an ESPN reporter is convinced Tom Brady will leave Patriots

As Tom Brady's free agency approaches, the language of the reporting about him is getting stronger.

NFL reporter Jeff Darlington joined ESPN's "Get Up!" on Thursday to state quite confidently that he believes Brady will sign with another team rather than return to the New England Patriots for a 21st season.

"There are people very close to Tom Brady who are being told by Tom Brady, 'It's not going to happen. I'm going somewhere else,' " Darlington said, as aired on ESPN. "That's the way we're operating here.

' ... I am now at the point where I would be stunned if Tom Brady returns to the Patriots."

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.

According to Darlington, Brady is looking at free agency as a way to "reinvigorate himself and do something different" by joining a new team.

Which team could that be? Joining Tom E. Curran on a recent episode of NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Talk Podcast, Darlington mentioned the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders as favorites to sign Brady.

Listen and subscribe to the Patriots Talk Podcast:

Brady has familiarity with Titans head coach and former Patriots teammate Mike Vrabel, while it was reported earlier this month that the Raiders are prepared to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million contract, which may exceed what New England is willing to give him.

Not all hope is lost for Patriots fans: Darlington added that even those "close" to Brady could see Patriots head coach Bill Belichick convincing the 42-year-old quarterback to stay for another year.

But Darlington also offered this warning:

"We need to wrap our minds around the fact that it is far more likely that Tom Brady will not be back with the Patriots."

UPDATE (8:50 a.m. ET): The Boston Herald's Karen Guregian and The Athletic's Vic Tafur both followed Darlington's comments with their own reports that don't bode well for Brady returning to New England.

Patriots DE Chase Winovich pleads for Tom Brady to stay in New England

Patriots DE Chase Winovich pleads for Tom Brady to stay in New England

Chase Winovich is all of New England right about now.

The Patriots defensive end clearly isn't a fan of the idea that Tom Brady may suit up for a new team in 2020. On Wednesday, he took to Instagram to beg Brady to re-sign with the Pats, and he did so in hilarious fashion.

"'To stay or to stay... 🤔' #pleaseDad #NotAllowedtoLeave #goat #shakespeare," Winovich wrote.


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.

The "Shakespeare" is a nice touch, but history tells us Brady may not be amused. Winovich may be on to something with the "#pleaseDad" hashtag, though.

Winovich, drafted out of Michigan 19 years after his favorite QB and fellow Wolverine, will have to wait impatiently like the rest of us until Brady makes his much-anticipated decision. The 42-year-old officially becomes a free agent March 18 if he and the Patriots can't agree on a contract extension before then.

The Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders each have been named as potential suitors for Brady in free agency.