Count former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson among those who don't believe that Tom Brady will be returning to the Patriots.
On Friday night's Arbella Early Edition on NBC Sports Boston, Johnson spoke at length about Brady's future in reference to a report that the Patriots and Bill Belichick would only be willing to give him a one-year deal worth less than he made last season.
In that segment, Johnson pointed to that lowball offer as meaning one thing. Belichick is simply done with Brady.
"I just think that Bill Belichick doesn't want Tom Brady as his quarterback anymore. I really feel that way," Johnson said. "Now, you're going to make maybe an offer, it's going to be a lowball offer and you can say, 'Well, we made an offer to Tom', but you really didn't because the offer was insulting to Tom. And so, to me, Bill really doesn't want Tom as his quarterback."
Johnson would go on to explain that the reason Belichick wants to move on from Brady is to prove himself without the player who many view as the greatest in NFL history.
"I think he wants to see what he can do without Tom," Johnson said. "Because I think one of the great debates is, who's more important to the franchise? Bill or Tom? And I think Bill wants to separate himself from Tom."
This certainly is a logical stance and would line up with the reports of fraying the relationship between Brady and Belichick dating to the team's decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. Perhaps the concern is overblown. And maybe Belichick is bluffing. Still, it does seem like there's a legitimate chance that Brady could leave. And Belichick might not mind that.
But as Johnson would go on to say, the team should be looking to find a "graceful way to exit" the situation with Brady. Right now, Johnson doesn't think the team is "going about it the right way."
The end of Brady's free-agent saga should occur soon, provided that the NFL doesn't postpone free agency amid the coronavirus pandemic. But until then, we're left to rely on rumors and gut feelings surrounding Brady.
And Johnson's is that Belichick doesn't want Brady anymore.