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Tom Brady leaving Patriots is NFL free agency storyline we needed

Tom Brady leaving Patriots is NFL free agency storyline we needed

Tom Brady leaving the Patriots is the storyline we all need right now.

Unless you’re a Pats fan, this breakup between Bill Belichick and Brady is something we’ve all been rooting for. If you are a Patriots fan, no one has any sympathy for you. You had two decades of winning. Welcome back to mediocrity with the rest of us New England. 

There’s a whole bunch of layers to this massive power shift, but most important here is the fact that something we as sports fans have been accustomed to, has been flipped on its head. 

The unknown is going to be polarizing every day from here on out, and if you thought Brady was in the news a lot before, this will be like throwing a box of lit matches into swimming pool full of gasoline. 

First comes the question we can all stay glued to: where Brady goes. The Bucs? The Chargers? Does some mystery team swoop in with a Godfather offer because they’re desperate for relevance? 

Once the “Brady destination” question is answered though, we’re still only at the starting gate of the best soap opera-style storyline of this saga. 

Brady has been in a 20-year relationship, and now he’s single again. He’s used to things being done a certain way, with someone who knows him better than anyone else. The “Patriot Way” is in his blood. Belichick and Robert Kraft brought a certain comfort level for Brady—even if they had their ups and downs at the end. 

Now Brady is looking for a new relationship. Can he adapt to unfamiliar routines? How willing is he to changing at all himself for the good of this new relationship? 

It’s hard to believe that any of these teams linked to Brady can bring something close to the culture in New England that Brady is used to. He’s bound to get frustrated and at some point use the “in New England we didn’t do it that way” phrase. 

Which as everyone should know, mentioning your ex in your new relationship doesn’t really go over well.

And then in the long term, we have the question of whether either Brady or Belichick can win without each other. 

Belichick clearly has the advantage when it comes to post-breakup success potential. 

Brady’s success is predicated on his health and physical abilities. Belichick just has to stay sharp mentally, while still having the comfort level of the same organization he’s been with for over two decades. Belichick isn’t forcing himself back onto the dating scene, he knows exactly what his weekends will be like and couldn’t be happier. 

Brady is as smart as anyone that’s ever played the game, but if he can’t throw the ball the way he wants to, it doesn’t matter. It’s just that simple. 

It’s foolish to try and judge Brady’s legacy on his post-Patriots resume though. He’s 43 years old, and his last play of the 2020 was a terrible and memorable pick six.

This is about his love of football (okay, and maybe a little spite towards the Patriots too). That’s all part of this long list of questions though. How is Brady both physically and mentally in 2020? Not to mention all of the outside factors that can interfere along the way. 

We’re all left with a million questions surrounding this league shifting news, but one thing we already know for sure, is that Tom Brady in a new uniform is great for the NFL and its fans, and we have so many more pages to this story that still have to be written. 

Buckle up.  

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Five players who could replace Marshal Yanda at right guard

Five players who could replace Marshal Yanda at right guard

The Ravens have a handful of options to replace retired Marshal Yanda at right guard. As for what the right combination is remains to be seen. 

With a few factors to consider, here are the top five candidates to replace Yanda’s spot at right guard.

D.J. Fluker

Fluker is the likeliest option — on paper — to start at right guard for the Ravens next season. He could run into problems with a diminished training camp. 

The newcomer from the Seahawks has played at right guard each year since 2015 and can slide out to tackle in a pinch if the Ravens need. But for now, he figures to be the best option as he’s the only member of this group who has actually seen significant time at right guard. 

At 6-foot-5 and 342 pounds, Fluker and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. would make a massive right side of the offensive line.

Ben Powers

Powers has a leg up on everyone on this list as he not only played guard last season for the Ravens, he also played next to Brown at Oklahoma while the two were Sooners. In an offseason with limited time together, Powers’ chemistry could play a big role. 

He played in just one game last season, his rookie year, but has the most experience of anyone on this list because of that. If Powers wants to see the field, he’ll certainly have every opportunity to seize the opportunity.

Ben Bredeson

Bredeson is one of two rookies who could see the field in 2020, and significantly so. 

He played four seasons at Michigan as the team’s starting left guard and is a technically sound player the Ravens could look for. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound offensive lineman was the 143rd pick in April’s draft.

If he’s able to successfully make the switch from the left side to the right side, the Ravens could have their next starting right guard on an incredibly young offensive line.

Tyre Phillips

Phillips was the 106th pick in April’s draft, and while he played tackle in college at Mississippi State, he is confident he can make the switch to guard in the NFL. 

He remarked he’s got a tackle’s feet with a guard’s body, which should set him up well to play on the right side of the Ravens’ offensive line. He’s 6-foot-5 and 345-pounds, which could prove to play to his benefit.

Patrick Mekari

If the Ravens want to choose experience, Mekari is the dark horse here — with a caveat. 

Center Matt Skura is recovering from a knee injury, and if he’s unable to play at the start of the season, Mekari will be the odds-on-favorite to replace him like he did last season. 

But if Skura is ready and available, Mekari — a versatile offensive lineman — could find himself at right guard. He practiced there last season and has a year in the system already. 

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Can the Ravens make a run at Jets safety Jamal Adams?

Can the Ravens make a run at Jets safety Jamal Adams?

The Ravens already have one of, if not the best, secondaries in the NFL. 

But can they make it better? 

New York Jets safety Jamal Adams reportedly isn’t happy with his current situation, as he and the Jets have reached a stalemate in contract negotiations. The 24-year-old safety is one of the league’s best at his position and wants to be compensated like so. Apparently, there isn’t a number that satisfies both he and the Jets. 

With trade talks increasing around the 2017 sixth-overall pick, along with a video of former Ravens’ safety Tony Jefferson talking with Adams about Baltimore, there have been rumors flying that the Ravens are interested in Adams’ services.

The Ravens were reportedly interested in acquiring Adams at last year’s trade deadline, but no deal was made. Since then, though, the Ravens situation has changed a bit. They extended Chuck Clark to a three-year, $15.3 million deal to boost an already talented secondary to one of the league’s elite, and for the foreseeable future too. He paired with Earl Thomas last year to make the secondary a formidable one for the league's best team.

And if the Ravens want to make a run for Adams, they’ll have a few bitter pills to swallow to get him on the roster.

Without a fifth or seventh-round pick in next year’s draft, albeit with a compensatory pick for the since-departed Michael Pierce likely on the way, the Ravens already don’t have much draft capital to start with. Should they part with a first and a third-round pick as well, which is the reported asking price for Adams, they’d be left with second, fourth and sixth-round picks before the compensatory pick rolls through. Meaning, at best, they’ll be left with four picks — and just one in the draft's first two days — in next year’s draft. 

The Ravens, of course, could roll the dice on what the 2021 NFL Draft could look like with the looming threat of a diminished, or canceled altogether, college football season. That would certainly require some strong knowledge of the prospect of a 2020 college season, as well as a gutsy call from general manager Eric DeCosta. 

If the Ravens decide Adams is worth the first and third-round picks the Jets are reportedly asking for, they’ll run into another problem: How to fit him on the roster. 

Clark’s extension signaled the Ravens were confident and comfortable with him starting in the secondary as the team’s director of traffic. That leaves Thomas, who just completed the first year of his four-year contract with the Ravens.

His cap number starts at $15 million in 2020 and rises by $1 million per season until the 2022 season. He’ll create $10 million in dead money after the 2020 season if the Ravens want to get out of his deal with a savings of just $6 million against the cap. After the 2021 season, the dead money dips to $5 million and the cap savings rise to $12 million. 

Either way, it’s not a desirable situation if the Ravens want to move on from the 31-year-old safety to bring in Adams. A trade partner for Thomas isn’t likely, either. 

Unless the Ravens are comfortable with playing three safeties on the field at one time, which they certainly could do consistently with Clark’s ability to play in the box, there’s not an easy answer to how to make the puzzle pieces work. 

And if the Ravens are able to slide Adams in and make the situation work on the field, he’s still up for a new contract, of which there are two years left. That deal would likely come in around $15 million per season.

Adams wants to be compensated like one of the best safeties in the NFL, and rightfully so. But that might not fit with what the Ravens can afford, with Clark and Thomas already in the fold. Marcus Peters and Tavon Young have already gotten their contracts, and Marlon Humphrey is due for one in the next two years, too. Simply, the Ravens cannot afford to devote that significant of a percentage to their secondary. 

Additionally, they’re due to pay tight end Mark Andrews, tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. and quarterback Lamar Jackson in the next few seasons. The Ravens have got to be smart about who they’re paying, when they’re paying them, and how they’re paying them.

DeCosta has assuredly thought all of this through. 

And while the prospect of adding yet another All-Pro player to the Ravens would help them become perhaps the league’s best team on paper, that’s exactly where the Adams thoughts hit some major flaws. 

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