Patriots say the ball is in Tom Brady's court as NFL free agency approaches

Patriots say the ball is in Tom Brady's court as NFL free agency approaches

The Patriots — perhaps more specifically, Bill Belichick — have volleyed back to Tom Brady.

With a week to go before Brady’s agent Don Yee can begin legally talking to other teams about employing his client, a four-tweet thread from ESPN’s Field Yates on Sunday morning stated the Patriots side of why nothing’s happened yet.

And it basically boils down to Judge Smails saying, “Well? We’re waiting…?”

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Yates is a trusted reporter who covered the Patriots for a few years before being scooped up by ESPN. He gets his stuff correct.

And he’s right, many HAVE wondered when the Patriots will make their offer to retain Brady. The first and last report on conversations came last week with news that Brady and Belichick spoke by phone, nothing was accomplished and Belichick's tone was characterized to me as being "all business" even though no business was actually accomplished.

So what do we make of this flurry of information from Yates?

Is the insinuation that August’s multi-year offer still stands? Or that Brady — because he rejected the multi-year deal last year and asked for his freedom — is solely responsible for getting the negotiations started?

Meanwhile, was Brady’s “preference” to not agree to any “new deal including a multi-year extension?” Or was the one the Patriots dangled last August not palatable?

After the Patriots gave Brady a raise from $15M to $23M last August, a source told me the hope on Brady’s side was for a two-year, $50M deal similar to the one Drew Brees signed in New Orleans. That didn’t materialize and the array of performance bonuses the team offered Brady was unsatisfactory.

So that’s the key question here. What were the salaries offered Brady? Were there team options involved that could have seen Brady cut loose suddenly? Were there any no-trade provisions in the offered multi-year deal or would the team have had the latitude to ship Brady out?

Also worth noting? In the hours following last August’s agreement, the Patriots were keen on framing the contract as an extension here, here and especially here where NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported, “The Patriots and QB Tom Brady are in agreement on a 2-year deal worth $70M, source said, thru 2021. He gets $23M this year, then $30M and $32M in the following years — though both sides are amenable to adjusting it if the situations warrants. It’s essentially year-to-year.”

It sure was year-to-year.

So here we are, seven months later, with Belichick waiting on Brady, Brady waiting on Belichick and Robert Kraft waiting on somebody — anybody — to deliver him news of progress toward Brady staying here for a 21st season.

The timeline so far is not encouraging. First, the unapproved Collective Bargaining Agreement was holding things up. Then a call between Brady and Belichick last week was unproductive. Now we learn the Patriots are waiting for Brady to make the first move.

It seems we’ve now entered the phase of the relationship where one side is saying, “Please just tell me what you want?!” and the other is saying, “If you don’t know by now …”

Tom Brady shared this sage advice with Titans' A.J. Brown last season

Tom Brady shared this sage advice with Titans' A.J. Brown last season

When the GOAT speaks, you listen, especially when you're a rookie in your first NFL training camp.

That's what Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown did when he crossed paths with then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during Tennessee's joint practices with New England last summer.

According to Brown, the 43-year-old quarterback imparted some valuable wisdom on the second-round draft pick -- the best advice Brown has received as a pro -- at one of those practices.

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"He told me: Work on the things you know you need improvement on, so you won't have no weakness," Brown said Monday in a video conference with reporters, via

"Everybody works hard, but everybody knows what their weakness is. Work on your weakness so you have no weakness."

That's sound advice from Brady, whose relentless drive to eliminate his own weaknesses helped him win six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots over 20 seasons before leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.

It appears Brown took Brady's advice to heart, too: The 23-year-old has been working to improve his conditioning after noticing on film that he looked fatigued during the fourth quarter of games as a rookie, which he believes may have given away some of his routes.

"(I have to) make sure my pad level is the same all the way through the whole route," Brown said. "Just not putting on your turn signal before you turn."

Brown was the only rookie wide receiver to top 1,000 receiving yards last season -- 1,051 yards on 52 catches with eight touchdowns -- so the Ole Miss product could become an elite NFL wideout if he takes another step forward in 2020.

Brady has helped plenty of Patriots wideouts over the years, but he's also been a font of wisdom for other budding NFL stars -- and you can add Brown to that list.

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NFL Rumors: Patriots plan to sign TE Jordan Leggett, DT Darius Kilgo

NFL Rumors: Patriots plan to sign TE Jordan Leggett, DT Darius Kilgo

UPDATE (Aug. 11, 8:45 a.m. ET): The Patriots won't be signing Jordan Leggett after all, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

-- End of update --

The New England Patriots have more open roster spots than any NFL team, but they're reportedly beginning to fill them.

The Patriots plan to sign tight end Jordan Leggett and defensive tackle Darius Kilgo assuming both free agents pass their COVID-19 tests and physicals, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

New England hosted both players for visits last week, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

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Leggett began his NFL career with the New York Jets in 2017 but missed his entire rookie year due to a knee injury. He caught 14 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown during the 2018 campaign but hasn't played a regular-season snap since after spending the 2019 season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad.

Still, the 25-year-old would add depth to a thin tight end group in New England: Ryan Izzo joins rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene as the only tight ends on the roster after Matt LaCosse opted out of the 2020 season.

Kilgo has spent four NFL seasons on six different teams and spent part of the 2016 campaign in New England, earning a Super Bowl ring while finishing the season on the Patriots' practice squad.

The 28-year-old missed his 2019 season with the Detroit Lions due to injury and last played an NFL snap with the Tennessee Titans in 2018.