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Report: Signing Brady is Going to Be Trickier Than You Think, from a Timing Standpoint

Tom E. Curran - As it stands right now, very little is going on. Financial negotiations haven’t begun. None of the three principals — Brady, Belichick and Robert Kraft — know how this is going to play out.

Brady is open to coming back under the right circumstances. Same goes for Belichick. But their circumstances are at cross-purposes.

Kraft wants Brady to stay — he’s on the record saying that. But he removed the team’s ability to force Brady to stay when he agreed to wipe away the franchise tag in 2020 because he didn’t want Brady to stay against his will.

And while my understanding is that the Patriots are willing to extend themselves financially to keep him, Belichick will receive no edict from the owner on what to do.

The Sunday report that the Patriots were willing to go north of $30M (presumably for one-year’s salary) to keep Brady, which came from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, has been a source of irritation for the team this week.

My understanding is no parameters have been set. That number is now an albatross to the proceedings. ...

Meanwhile, how can prospective free agents even know Brady is going to re-sign? Another meanwhile? If Brady doesn’t re-sign before free agency, $13.5M in dead money hits the salary cap on March 18 at 4 p.m.  

A final meanwhile? It’s crazy to think Brady’s going to negotiate to have the franchise tag removed for 2020, get to the cusp of free agency then fold his tent and come back to the same old, same old. Not after he spent last year ducking and chucking and shaking his head.

I truly don’t know how the Patriots are going to thread the needle to keep Brady.

Balls.

As soon as it was reported that, as part of his agreement to sign a team-friendly deal last spring, that Brady got a guarantee he wouldn't be franchised, it was obvious that bringing him back would be tricky. That there'd be a lot of moving parts and balls in the air all at once. But until it was laid out like this, it hadn't really occurred to be that it was going to require the kind of precision coordination and split second timing normally required for a casino heist by a multicultural band of colorful rogues. 

To summarize, by the few reports we've had, including this one, Belichick wants to keep Brady. Mr. Kraft wants him too, but will stay out of it and let the kids work it out among themselves. That report about the two years at $60 million muddied the waters some, but they can work around it because no figures have been discussed. OK so far. 

But here's were it gets complicated. If Brady decides to talk to other teams before hammering out a deal with New England - if he wants to experience the non-stop thrill ride of having dinner with Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden or dopamine dump that is having Tom Telesco and Anthony Lynn say how much they admire him, then Belichick will have to have his replacement already on the roster. Gronk didn't announce his retirement until March 24th last year, when we were already into the second week of free agency and all the viable options were gone. 

But by the same token, if he gets proactive and acquires, for example, a Teddy Bridgewater, then that pretty much creates a situation where Brady will leave. 

Of course this could all be prevented by working out a deal five minutes ago. Before legal tampering begins on March 16th, anyway. But doesn't make sense for Brady to have gotten the no franchise promise and then not at least explore what's out there for him. You don't create all the bad blood it takes to ask for a Hall Pass from your wife only to not try out your best pick up lines at Applebee's.

So that's the grim picture being painted at the moment. I've been dreading March 18th enough as it is, but this complex scenario is not going to be doing my stress drinking any favors. As a matter of fact, drinking myself into a coma and waking up when all this is over might be the only simple solution I have at the moment.

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