As recently as Tuesday night on Quick Slants, Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran reported that Tom Brady would be present for mandatory minicamp in June. Patriots owner Robert Kraft confirmed as much at the NFL's Spring Meeting in Atlanta on Wednesday.
"I think he's very excited about the upcoming season," Kraft told reporters. "These are voluntary workouts, and I think he's in great shape. I think he's at an age where -- I was thinking back to when he joined us -- he's blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it's very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football. I can only say this: I know he's very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year."
Rob Gronkowski has also stayed away from Patriots practices thus far, but Kraft said he expected the All-Pro tight end to be present for mini-camp as well.
"We all love Gronk," he said.
The Patriots are currently in Phase Three of their offseason workout program, which consists of 10 voluntary OTA practices. Splitting those OTA sessions is the team's mandatory three-day mini-camp from June 5-7.
Though Brady has opted to steer clear of all voluntary work to this point, Kraft explained that he felt as though the relationship between Brady and coach Bill Belichick was in a good place.
"From my point of view, nothing's changed," Kraft said. "Everything is good and I think he's very excited about coming back, and I know we're excited to have him. We look forward to a great football season."
Coaches would of course like all players to be accounted for during the offseason program -- as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained recently -- but Kraft seemed to indicate that he wasn't all that concerned with Brady's level of play falling off because of his absence. And that may be fair. Brady is coming off an MVP season and is widely expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league again in 2018.
How his decision to skip workouts impacts others, though, remains to be seen. Will it be more difficult for players like Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt and Phillip Dorsett -- all of whom will be going through their first offseason with Brady whenever Brady shows up -- to get up to speed with their starting quarterback sitting out?
Kraft alluded to the fact that the absence of key players could actually help the team build depth.
"The good news out of this, I've learned this over time, whenever one player isn't there, other players -- we're in a business of quality depth management," Kraft said. "A lot of other players are able to get reps they wouldn't get and go down the learning curve. During the course of the season, a number of things happen where you can't plan, and it's good to have as much preparation as you can."