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Tom Brady shows support for Antonio Brown

Mike Florio and Big Cat look at the latest odds for where Tom Brady will end up in free agency and debate if his decision is essentially down to the 49ers or the Patriots.

A Tom Brady-Antonio Brown reunion seems unlikely. That’s not keeping Brady from stoking the possibility.

Brady tweeted a heart emoji in response to the latest effort by Brown to atone for a year of misbehavior that has made him, for now, radioactive to NFL teams.

“Anger and ego kicked my ass for about 6 months I forgot about hard work and grace has success took a shot yet,” Brown said.

The gesture from Brady comes at a time when the mystery regarding his future has reached a fever pitch. Even though the Westgate Sportsbook has installed the Patriots as 1-2 favorites to keep the greatest quarterback in league history, the absence of any indication that Brady will sign a new contract less than 10 days before he can officially field offers from other teams continues to fuel the notion that, after 20 years in New England, his third decade in the NFL will start elsewhere.

At a time when much of the focus has remained on what Brady wants, it’s important to consider what Bill Belichick wants. Fully aware that the train is pulling into the station even if Brady stays, Belichick could be ready to remove the Band-Aid and move on, with Jarrett Stidham or someone else under center for the Patriots and Brady going to a new team, whichever new team that may be.

Indeed, if Brady and Brown will be finding their way onto the same roster again, it undoubtedly won’t happen with the Patriots. Which means that Brady will have to leave town.

It all continues to be up in the air, something that Brady seems to be enjoying -- and something that has fueled the media frenzy regarding his NFL future.

Brady knows what he’s doing, even if he doesn’t know where he’s going. And while Patriots fans don’t seem to be particularly bothered by Brady’s various efforts to stoke the uncertainty, they may feel very differently if he chooses to parlay his first foray into free agency into something other than eventually deciding to stay where he’s always been.

If he’s going to stay in New England, something needs to happen soon. And it will need to happen shortly after a decision is rendered as to whether the rules of the new CBA will supplant the rules of the current one. As of Friday, March 13, everyone will know the rules for 2020. As of Monday, March 16, Brady will be able to negotiate with other teams. As of Wednesday, March 18, the Patriots will eat more than $13 million in cap space for Brady’s past contract and Brady will be free and clear to sign a new contract with one of the NFL’s other 31 franchises.

Thus, answers necessarily are coming. The mystery necessarily will be ending, at least as to whether Brady will re-sign with the Patriots before becoming a free agent. While that won’t necessarily end the saga, it will quite possibly eliminate the Patriots as a possibility. Unless he looks around at possible new homes and decides to stay put. If the Patriots (i.e., Belichick) want him to.

For most football fans, it’s a curiosity. For Patriots fans, it takes on greater importance. For fans of his next team (if it’s not the Patriots), the decision will have a major influence on that team’s fate in 2020.

For the media, it’s a topic that will continue to drive interest. Which means that we’ll continue to monitor the situation closely, looking for any clues or hints or indications that Brady will be leaving, and where he will be going.

Brady understands it. He apparently likes it. And he inevitably will have to let everyone know how it ends. Even if, as of this moment, he doesn’t really know how it will end, either.