The biggest story of the NFL’s 2020 offseason is without a doubt Tom Brady’s free agency status: as you may have heard by now, the future Hall of Famer is scheduled to enter the open market on March 18 and him returning to the New England Patriots is far from a guarantee. That being said, nothing has been decided yet one way or the other and the two sides are only getting negotiations started about a new contract for the 42-year-old.
However, the early signs do not appear to be encouraging. Or are they?
On Wednesday, the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reported that Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had talked on the phone the previous day. The conversation between the two architects of the New England dynasty was apparently the first they have had about Brady’s pending free agency, but that it “didn’t go well.” No further details were provided, only that the discussion was not considered to be a fruitful one by those involved in it.
NFL Network’s Mike Giardi jumped aboard with his own report about the Brady-Belichick talk a short time later. Giardi confirmed that the two did in fact speak with each other recently, but noted that he did not know the tenor of the conversation. However, he added that the quarterback’s market would not be developing nearly as strongly as it is being portrayed in various media outlets which in turn may have led to leaks coming out.
Speaking of which, CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar added that he thinks every outcome still appears to be in play, but that a source close to the situation would be “insisting that there’s little chance [Brady] returns to the Patriots at this point.” According to the report, the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders are the front-runners for Brady’s services at this point in time, with the San Francisco 49ers also emerging as a possible landing spot.
30 minutes later, ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined the party and took the discussion back to Brady’s reported conversation with Belichick. According to Schefter, the two have indeed spoken recently but that a) the talks did not take place on Tuesday, and b) the “tone of their discussion was ‘business as usual.’” This leaves plenty of room for interpretation, of course, but sounds a little more positive than the original story published by the Herald.
So, where do Brady and the Patriots stand? They did talk with each other, that has been established, but the nature of the conversation and whether or not it can be classified as a success is very much in question. Here is the thing, though: at this time of the year and with the start of free agency only two weeks away, media reports oftentimes serve the purpose of creating a somewhat altered reality in order to benefit the negotiating parties.
This does certainly not make those reporting the leaks bad journalists. Doing just that is their job, after all, and all four mentioned above are well-established in NFL circles and have proven themselves as trustworthy people who have their fingers on the league’s proverbial pulse. That being said, trying to gain advantage through the media is one of the oldest tricks in the book and there will be plenty more reports coming out between now and March 18.
The fun is just getting started — just like the contract negotiations between the Patriots and Tom Brady.