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…?”
and include a no-tag provision in his deal to ensure him the right to test the market if he desired. Early in camp, the Patriots gave Brady his request for total freedom after 2019. Brady now has that opportunity to be a free agent.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 8, 2020
an offer, but Brady wanted to test the market, which has now has the chance to do.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 8, 2020
The chance for Brady to return to New England is of course possible, but an important step in that process is an understanding for the team of what Brady is seeking in a new deal.
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 …”