NFL Rumors: 'More Likely Than Not' Tom Brady Leaves Patriots
After two decades, six championships and a Hall of Fame career, it's hard to imagine Tom Brady wearing another NFL uniform. His time with the New England Patriots will go down as one of the most dominant stretches we have ever see from a player in any sport, which is why fans can't process why he will become a free agent and test the market next month.
While the reasons for Brady not to leave New England has many thinking he won't, ESPN insider Jeff Darlington detailed on Thursday why people aren't taking the idea of Brady leaving the Patriots seriously enough. He also went as far as to say it is "more likely than not" that Brady signs with another team this offseason.
“The reaction often times when I talk about Tom Brady leaving New England - ‘He’s not leaving New England’ - because people can’t wrap their head around the idea of him leaving. It’s time to wrap our heads around the idea of Tom Brady leaving New England because it is a very real, VERY real possibility," said Darlington on the ESPN radio show "Golic and Wingo" Thursday morning. “It’s more likely than not that Tom Brady leaves the Patriots. That’s not saying that he couldn’t still stay with the Patriots, but it is more likely than not that he leaves the Patriots.”
Darlington is one of two insiders that have a close relationship with Brady and his camp, the other being Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports. So, if Darlington is saying it's more likely than not that Brady leaves the Patriots, chances are he is hearing that directly from Brady's camp, whether it be from close friends, family members, agent Don Yee etc. But whether Darlington's statement has true weight to it is a different story.
We know New England doesn't have to outbid other team's financially for Brady, which is why Curran wrote earlier this week that the Patriots "aren't worried" about other team's financial pitches to the 42-year-old QB. His understanding was that if New England obtained enough offensive firepower this offseason and gave Brady a little more say in football operations, Brady would happily come back at a cheaper rate compared to what other team's offered him.
Per Curran, contract negotiations between Brady and the Patriots will begin "in a couple weeks," which will likely happen either during or directly after the NFL combine. New England wants to sign Brady to a contract before March 18, which is when his contract voids and he leaves behind a $13.5 million cap hit. Seeing that New England is projected to have just $41 million to spend this offseason, having a player who may or may not return to the Patriots soak up that kind of cap space is not ideal.
Reports have been adamant that Brady will test free agency regardless of what New England's plans are for the six-time Super Bowl champion. And as Darlington points out, there's a very real possibility that Brady is sporting a new uniform in 2020.
The Raiders are reportedly prepared to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal when they sit down for a meeting. And Las Vegas will likely not be the only team that throws an offer Brady's way either during the tampering period or when free agency begins. Because of that, the next month leading up to the dreaded March 18 dateline will provide plenty of drama regarding the Tom Brady sweepstakes.