On Thursday morning, just over 48 hours after pointing out on Monday Night Football that the world should be paying attention to Tom Brady's real estate activity and contract situation as an indication of what his future may hold, ESPN's Adam Schefter doubled down.
On the network's "Get Up" program, Schefter went so far as to say that Brady returning to New England was the least likely outcome for the quarterback in 2020, in his estimation.
"These are his acts that he's put into motion," Schefter said. "And I don't think that he knows how it's going to play out after this year. But again, just look at the basic facts. That's what I said. If he's selling his house, his trainer is selling his house, and he's voiding his contract, doesn't that tell you something?
"I would just say there are three options: He's either staying in New England; he's retiring; or he's going to play somewhere else. I would think of those three, that staying in New England, to me, would seem like the least likely option of the three. But we'll see."
That, not surprisingly, drew a collective gasp from the other panelists on the show.
"I think he could go any which way," Schefter added. "I think all three are in play. But I think it'd be more likely that he'll retire or perhaps even move on than stay in New England. We'll see."
That's going a step beyond pointing to the contract and the for-sale listing in Brookline and saying, essentially, "This is interesting..."
That's the most plugged-in NFL reporter in the country saying that he thinks the most likely thing to happen this offseason is that Brady bids New England adieu.
Is this an elaborate leverage play for Brady, trying to let it be known that he's ready to walk away if the Patriots don't provide him with the kind of contract he'd like? It doesn't seem like he's in the message-sending phase of his career.
It could simply be that the quarterback who has insisted that he hopes to play into his mid-40s, the guy who once said, "When I suck, I'll retire," feels like he'd rather be somewhere else.
On WEEI's Greg Hill Show this week, Brady said that he'll wake up one day and say to himself that he's had enough. He explained that could be five years from now. Could be at the end of this year. He doesn't know.
The fact that Schefter, someone who makes his living on being in the know, would say it's his opinion that Brady will most likely end up either retired or with another team next year, is certainly worth noting.
How would the Patriots cope? Right now, there's only one quarterback under contract on the roster for 2020. (That's not including all the former quarterbacks — Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers — at the receiver position right now.)
Asked Wednesday about rookie fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham's progress through almost a half-season as a pro — more than a half-season including training camp and preseason — Bill Belichick said he likes what he's seen.
"Yeah, good. Jarrett is a smart kid," Belichick said. "He picks things up very quickly. He has a good grasp of the offense given where he is in his career. He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him.
"In practice, he does a good job. He gets a lot of passes on our defense and when he has the opportunity to get the offensive snaps, he’s prepared and does a good job of those. But you know, it’s always different in the game. I think he’s doing all he can do."
Stidham has seen action in three games this season, completing two of his four pass attempts for 14 yards. He had an interception returned for a touchdown back in Week 3.
During the week, Stidham is getting real work in practice. For a time, the Patriots had three quarterbacks on the roster: Brady, Stidham and Cody Kessler. But Kessler has been released, leaving all the passing reps to two arms.
"It’s easier to manage it with two than three," Belichick said of the practice reps. "But there’s really not that many snaps in the regular season. It’s easier with three probably in training camp, maybe four depending on how they are and who needs what and so forth, but two is fine."
The Patriots only have one scheduled to be on the team next season. It's not Brady. And if one prominent NFL reporter's inkling is right, that's not going to change any time soon.
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