Reports: Tom Brady Likely to Play Elsewhere Next Season; Could the Hall of Famer Really Leave the Patriots?

​With Tom Brady set to enter free agency for the first time in his career, any news surrounding the 6-time Super Bowl Champion seems like big news.  On Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that Brady is, “currently operating under the belief that he will enter free agency to play somewhere other than New England next season.” Darlington even went as far to say that he, “would be stunned if Brady went back to New England.”

​While there has been a sentiment around the league that the Patriots will have their chance to convince Brady to stay, it seems Brady is set on exploring the market and seeing what is out there for him.  Brady is not eligible to negotiate with any team besides the Patriots up until March 16th when the NFL’s legal tampering period opens.  As of now, reports state that the Patriots have yet to meet with Brady to discuss a new contract. 

​Although this seems discouraging for those who want to see Brady remain in New England, there are some outside factors that may be affecting any potential talks between Brady and the Patriots.  With reports of a new collective bargaining agreement being negotiated by the players and owners, there is much uncertainty around the league landscape. Once the CBA talks are settled and there is more clarity around the league, Belichick and Brady could begin to discuss what a contract may look like.  ESPN reports that one source told Adam Schefter, “Without knowing about the CBA, that talk can’t happen.”

When looking at the matter from Brady’s perspective, it is simple to understand why he would be preparing to depart in free agency.  Currently, there is only one team allowed to talk to him by league rules.  That team is the Patriots, who have not been in contact yet.  Due to this fact, Brady is smart to prepare for potential life after the Patriots in case it becomes a reality.
Until the Patriots communicate with Brady, and indicate that they are committed to bringing him back to New England, it is impossible to blame Brady for lining up possible exit scenarios.  It remains to be seen how much the tone of this report would change if the Patriots and Brady got in contact over a new contract in the coming weeks. For years, Brady has begged the Patriots to commit to him for the rest of his career, but over the past couple years the team has resisted by leaving his contract on a year to year basis. 
It’s hard to imagine another team being a better destination for Tom Brady than the Patriots are, but plenty of teams will be interested in his services. The Raiders, Titans, Chargers, Buccaneers, Colts and even Giants have been thrown around in rumors, although the interest of those teams remains to be seen.  At the moment, even after the most recent reports, the experts in Las Vegas still believe Tom Brady will stay with the Patriots as they are -125 favorites to retain him. Following the Patriots are the Titans at +550, the Raiders at +650 and the Chargers at +750.

Ultimately, today’s news is certainly negative for those hoping Brady stays, but it is important to remember that a lot can change in a short period of time. If the Patriots pull out all the stops in the next few weeks, and show Brady a clear plan to put weapons around him, it’s hard to imagine Brady turning that down. Bill Belichick is no stranger to surprising people and he could certainly do that in this scenario. Until he signs on the dotted line somewhere else, there is always a chance that he remains a Patriot.

(Photo: Corey Perrine – Associated Press)

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