Not much has transpired on the Patriots side of the Tom Brady free agency rumor cycle, but a negotiation timetable has surfaced. The Pats are not expected to discuss a new deal for Brady for multiple weeks, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes, adding that this likely corresponds with the Combine.
The annual scouting showcase/tampering bonanza will give the parties a better indication as to what the future Hall of Famer’s market looks like. The Raiders and Chargers have been the teams most linked to Brady, with the Titans perhaps in play as well. New England, however, is not especially concerned with other teams’ pitches to Brady, per Curran. Their primary objective will be attempting to assemble a better skill-position corps to entice Brady, it appears.
A key part of the Pats’ agenda will be upgrading at tight end after essentially punting on a Rob Gronkowski replacement last year. Acquiring pass-catching help will be a primary Pats goal, Curran notes, adding that Brady is less concerned with other teams’ financial pitches than he is with their roster talent. Austin Hooper, Eric Ebron and Hunter Henry are the top young tight ends available. Though, Henry looms as a possible Chargers tag candidate — which would also factor into the Bolts’ prospective Brady pitch.
As for the scenario where Brady does defect to another team: some around the league view New England as a fit for Andy Dalton, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Dalton speculation has surfaced at times this offseason, with NBC Sports’ Peter King viewing a post-Brady partnership between the 32-year-old quarterback and the Patriots as one that would potentially be mutually beneficial.
Dalton is entering his contract year (on a $17.5MM salary), and the Bengals are set to work with their nine-year starter on a trade. Should a Brady departure put this scenario into play, the Pats do not have a second-round pick but may hold three third-rounders because of Trey Flowers‘ and Trent Brown‘s departures in free agency. These late-Day 2 picks could also come in handy for potential trades for tight end or wideout upgrades.
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