Bill Belichick

Brady Fallout: Bucs, Belichick, Colts, Hoyer

The Buccaneers‘ signing of the most accomplished free agent in NFL history triggered a ripple effect in several cities. That started in Charlotte. Although neither Bruce Arians nor Jason Licht spoke to Tom Brady until Wednesday of last week, the Bucs believed they had a “shell of a deal” with Brady by Tuesday, Peter King of NBC Sports reports. This was hours before the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced he would no longer return to the Patriots. The Bucs’ discussions with Brady’s agent, Don Yee, Tuesday prompted them to bow out of the Teddy Bridgewater pursuit, King adds. Bridgewater’s Panthers offer prompted the Bucs to give him an answer, and they chose to stay in the Brady pursuit without a full commitment. The Bucs had been linked to Bridgewater for weeks.

At February’s end, the Bucs’ quarterback hierarchy went Brady-Bridgewater-Jameis Winston, King notes. Tampa Bay had also been linked to Philip Rivers in February, but it became clear the Colts were his top option.

Here is the latest fallout from the Bucs’ Brady signing:

  • Brady’s camp expressed interest in the Colts, but King notes the interest was not mutual. The prospect of a Rivers-Colts partnership surfaced shortly after the Chargers revealed they would not re-sign him, and while the notion of Rivers-over-Brady sounds interesting based on the veterans’ accolades, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets the Colts’ preference of going with a one-year quarterback arrangement probably did not align with Brady’s hopes of a multiyear commitment. Rivers signed a one-year, $25MM deal; Brady became a Buccaneer for two years and $50MM fully guaranteed. Brady also expressed interest in the 49ers, and the Titans were a long-rumored suitor. These franchises joined the Colts and Raiders in leaving the Brady race early.
  • Early this offseason, Brady’s camp put out feelers to other teams, and’s Seth Wickersham notes many executives around the league viewed the quarterback as being driven by ill will toward Bill Belichick that they could not tell if he wanted out of New England or merely wanted Robert Kraft to step in and broker a new Pats deal. Belichick refused to give Brady the extension he sought last summer, and Wickersham adds that a Brady-Belichick conversation in late 2017 about the quarterback’s future with the Patriots ended with a “blowup.” This meeting appears to have happened just before Wickersham’s “tension in New England”-centered report that indicated Kraft’s intervention helped drive the Jimmy Garoppolo-to-San Francisco deal. The Patriots gave Brady an incentive package in 2018, leading to his extension-in-name-only 2019 contract.
  • As for the Patriots‘ plans, they may actually be planning a Brian HoyerJarrett Stidham quarterback battle. Hoyer could have earned more money elsewhere but wanted to return to New England because he was told he will have a chance to vie for the starting job, Ian Rapoport of adds (video link). The Patriots, as of now, do not have Andy Dalton on their radar and are viewed as being high on Stidham, who has attempted four NFL passes.

Latest On Tom Brady, Patriots

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady finally spoke about the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s contract. While the precise tone of these talks is in dispute, the sides do not appear close to a resolution that will keep the greatest player in Patriots history in New England.

While Adam Schefter of reports the Belichick-Brady conversation was “business as usual” (Twitter link), NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran and the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian report the discussion did not go particularly well.

Brady’s contract expires March 18, and while it should not be ruled out the 42-year-old passer will return for a 21st Patriots season, the latest developments point to a better-than-expected chance he will depart. And the market for the all-time great may now include a fourth of the league.

As many as eight teams are “monitoring Brady’s free agency,” per’s Jeff Darlington, who adds that octet has varying degrees of interest in the Patriots quarterback. Among those, Darlington (via NBC Sports Boston) believes four would sign Brady “right now.” Identifying multiple teams who would do this is not especially difficult. Getting to four is tougher but doable.

Brady has been connected to the Chargers, Raiders, Titans, Colts, Giants, Dolphins, Buccaneers and now 49ers. Three of those teams — the Colts, Dolphins and Giants — are not expected to be real contenders. But the Titans, Bucs and the California teams have not been ruled out.

The Raiders have been not-so-secretly sought a Derek Carr upgrade since Jon Gruden‘s return, and the Chargers’ pursuit of one of the NFL’s most popular players makes sense from that particular organization’s perspective. Bruce Arians said he would consider signing Brady, while the Titans are run by an ex-Patriots exec (Jon Robinson) and ex-Brady teammate (Mike Vrabel). While a 49ers fit would be perhaps the strangest, given their employment of longtime Brady backup Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady is a northern California native.

With free agency still 13 days away, the Brady rumors — and talks of potential replacements for the Patriots — figure to heat up in that span.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Winters, Brown

Tom Brady‘s impending unrestricted free agency will be the largest story of the offseason. It remains unclear whether he will be returning to the Patriots or looking for a new home outside of New England. One important element of negotiations revolves around Brady’s relationship with owner Robert Kraft.

A source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that he “wonders” if Kraft will instruct head coach and president Bill Belichick to do whatever is necessary to keep Brady in a Pats uniform. While little is known about Brady’s own preferences, the power dynamics within the organization itself could very well play a role as well.

  • Many expect Jets guard Brian Winters to be released to make $7MM in salary cap space, but Rich Cimini of ESPN notes that the organization might want to find a way to retain the guard at a reduced salary through a restructure. Winters, a seven-year veteran, has spent his entire career with the Jets and started 9 games for the team last season.
  • Former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown appears to be taking a larger role on the team’s coaching staff, per Mike Reiss of ESPN. Reiss noted that Brown, who has been on the Pats coaching staff in a limited capacity, was involved in meetings with prospects at the scouting combine.

Latest On Tom Brady, Patriots

Tom Brady‘s free agency decision is set to overshadow the rest of this year’s market. And with the Chargers and Raiders already linked to pursuing the future Hall of Fame passer, the Patriots’ offseason will be quite complicated.

A report surfaced recently indicating the Pats are prepared to give Brady a contract that pays him at least $30MM per season, which would put the 42-year-old quarterback near his top peers after several years of accepting team-friendly discounts. That report proved to be an annoyance to the Patriots, per NBC Sports Tom Curran, who adds the team has not delved into financial specifics just yet.

While it would still be somewhat surprising to see Brady part ways with Bill Belichick after the partnership produced six Super Bowl titles, some NFL insiders expect that to happen. Some around the league believe Brady departing is “all but a done deal,” Mike Jones of USA Today reports. Others within league circles expect the Pats to retain him, due to their lack of a successor in place and Robert Kraft‘s desire to see Brady stay.

Kraft has made his intentions clear; Belichick has not. The 21st-year Patriots coach, however, will not be forced to keep Brady, Curran adds. Although Kraft denied he pushed Belichick to trade Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017, a report indicated that happened. So the Kraft-Belichick dynamic will naturally be interesting as Brady prepares to be a first-time free agent.

Brady is expected to gauge the market, which will place the Pats in a bind. If they cannot extend Brady by March 17 — the final day of the 2019 league year — they will be tagged with $13.5MM in dead-money charges in 2020. If Brady re-signs, the Pats can spread that cap hit — created by the Patriots’ usage of void years to redo Brady’s deal last summer — across two seasons. Brady sought a multiyear commitment from the Patriots last year but did not receive it. The Patriots’ level of commitment may be more important to Brady than money, per Curran.

The Pats going into free agency with that dead-money hit and without an answer from Brady, however, will make improving their team more difficult. In an offseason that could feature more quarterback movement than usual, the Patriots would surely be in the market for a veteran passer to replace Brady. But not knowing if they’ll need to do so would tie the Pats’ hands.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Request Permission To Interview Dolphins DC

New Giants head coach Joe Judge continues working to fill out his staff. New York has requested permission to interview Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham for the same position, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. Garafolo adds that the request is expected to be granted.

Generally, teams are hesitant to allow their coaches to interview with other teams unless it is for a clear promotion. However, Judge worked with Graham and current Dolphins head coach Brian Flores with the Patriots, which may make Miami more willing to make an exception. Graham not only shares a history with Judge, but also worked with the Giants from 2016-17, serving as the team’s defensive line coach from 2016-17.

On the surface, it would seem like a surprise for a coach on a 5-11 team to be receiving outside interest, but entering the season many wondered if the Dolphins would manage to win any games. Miami clearly entered the season with a tank in mind, making minimal free agent additions last offseason and trading the team’s best offensive lineman (Laremy Tunsil), defensive back (Minkah Fitzpatrick), and wide receiver (Kenny Stills) early in the season. While the Dolphins are by no means a legitimate contender, they finished the season winning three of their final five games, including wins against the Eagles and Patriots.

Since Judge was relatively unknown before the Giants announced his hiring this week, little is known about the people he might target to fill out his staff. At least to start, it appears he will continue to look to the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

Coaching Notes: Rhule, Giants, Cowboys

Even after Joe Judge‘s standout interview Monday led to him becoming the Giants‘ head coach, the franchise still had Matt Rhule as their preferred candidate. The Panthers‘ seven-year, $62MM offer to the Baylor head coach essentially prompted the Giants to fold their hand on this front, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting Big Blue balked at the contract length and salary. Rhule’s $8.9MM salary makes him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the league — behind Bill Belichick ($12MM per year), Pete Carroll ($11MM AAV), Jon Gruden ($10MM), Sean Payton ($9.8MM) and John Harbaugh ($9MM). The Panthers also paid Baylor a $6MM buyout, Adam Schefter of tweets. Just months ago, Rhule agreed to an extension with the Big 12 program.

Here is the latest from the coaching front:

  • In addition to missing out on the Ron Rivera boat, the Giants wanted to speak with Mike McCarthy again, Vacchiano adds. The Cowboys swooping in prevented such an opportunity.
  • Big Blue received a ringing Judge endorsement from Belichick, Ian Rapoport of notes (video link). The former Giants defensive coordinator and six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach called the Giants to sell them on Judge’s credentials, despite his non-traditional candidacy as a special teams coordinator.
  • Shifting to McCarthy’s Cowboys staff, the team is expected to hire Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to the same position, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Fassel’s contract was up. The second-generation NFL coach will relocate to Dallas after spending eight seasons with the Rams. Fassel came over from the Raiders in 2012, when Jeff Fisher took over in St. Louis, and stayed on with Sean McVay‘s team for three seasons. Fassel served as Rams interim HC in 2016, after the franchise fired Fisher. The Rams are losing their DC and ST coordinators, with Wade Phillips also out of the picture.
  • Other candidates have surfaced to relocate to Texas. Cowboys assistants expect Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be named Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Albert Breer of notes. Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005, when McCarthy served as San Francisco’s OC. Additionally, Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is on McCarthy’s radar, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Tomsula was the 49ers’ HC in 2015 and has been the Redskins’ D-line coach since 2017.
  • The Bengals and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons have agreed to an extension, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A longtime Dolphins ST boss, Simmons interviewed for the Bengals’ HC job last year and joined Cincinnati’s staff as a key assistant after the top job went to Zac Taylor. Despite Cincinnati’s 2-14 record, the team ranked first in special teams DVOA under its first-year leader.

Patriots Likely To Face Discipline For Video Incident

DEC. 15: Jay Glazer of FOX Sports obtained the much-ballyhooed video, and as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic tweets, it does indeed contain extended (read: not accidental) footage of the Bengals’ sideline. The video also includes interaction between the Bengals and Patriots staffs, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, when the Bengals confronted the Patriots, the Patriots rep said, “I can delete this right here for you.” The Bengals rep then said, “the damage is done.” Florio believes that dialogue supports New England’s position that the taping of Cincinnati’s sidelines was inadvertent, while skeptics will argue that the Pats were caught red-handed and were just trying to save face.

DEC. 14: It seems like the Patriots aren’t going to be exonerated of wrongdoing by the league for the videotaping incident that dominated headlines this past week. For a full primer on the scandal, click here.

The NFL is “likely to penalize” New England, sources tell Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Maske writes that the league office is “contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules.” As for the type of punishment, he writes that it could “mean a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss or reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower-level pick.” Likewise, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that the team is facing “significant punishment,” which is likely to include the loss of at least one draft pick, heavy fines, and the possibility of a suspension for a member of upper management and/or ownership.

Maske highlights a number of incidents that sources indicated could serve as precedents. The Giants were fined $150K back in 2016 for using walkie-talkies on the sideline, and the Falcons were fined $350K for artificially adding crowd noise in 2015. One source told him that the NFL has been “consistent on game-day violations,” and that will likely continue here. Fortunately for the Pats, Maske writes that Bill Belichick and individual members of the organization aren’t being targeted for potential punishments.

While Roger Goodell had previously said that the Patriots’ history with illegal videotaping would be taken into account, Maske writes that neither Belichick nor anybody else are being “viewed as repeat offenders.” He adds that the penalties aren’t set in stone yet, and deliberations in the league office will resume on Sunday.

The league is apparently hoping for a resolution as soon as possible, so we should know more shortly. All things considered, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to be cracking down too hard or hitting the Patriots with anything too severe. The organization likely wouldn’t lose much sleep over a fine, although obviously a potential draft pick sanction would be much more significant. Notably, Atlanta was docked a fifth-round pick in 2016 for the incident that Maske says is being used as a comparison.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Patriots’ Video Investigation

6:24pm: Roger Goodell confirmed the Patriots’ history with illegal videotaping will be factored into this process, adding that the league will take its time during the investigation into this matter (Twitter links via Ian Rapoport of

10:01am: For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the Patriots are involved in another scandal involving prohibited filming of another team. Jeff Howe of The Athletic offers a useful summary of the details, which are fairly straightforward.

Essentially, the Patriots’ media production team was filming an episode of “Do Your Job” during the Bengals-Browns game on Sunday. “Do Your Job” is a series of features highlighting less visible members of the organization, and this episode focused on a day in the life of a New England pro scout.

The film crew obtained the necessary credentials to follow that scout to the Cleveland press box for the game (scouts routinely do advance scouting of an upcoming opponent from the press box, and the Patriots play the Bengals this week). Unfortunately for the crew, part of the B-roll that they shot included footage of the Cincinnati sideline, and NFL teams are prohibited from shooting video of coaches on the sideline.

The Patriots acknowledge that they should have done a better job advising the crew of league protocol, and they also concede that they should have informed the Bengals and the league of their intentions prior to the game. In a statement, they accepted full responsibility for the crew’s actions, and Howe suggests that some members of the team’s production wing could lose their jobs.

Howe also says that a Bengals staffer recognized what was happening and shot an eight-minute video of the Patriots crew’s monitor before reporting it to NFL security. The league is now in possession of that video, along with all footage the Patriots shot for this episode of “Do Your Job,” which New England promptly turned over.

All of that makes it sound like an innocent oversight. However, sources tell Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic that the eight-minute video focuses exclusively on the Bengals sideline and includes “a direct view of the sideline as players run on and off the field and coaches make signals for plays.” Those sources suggest that the footage does not include inadvertent glimpses of the sideline during an interview with the scout, but rather an extended shooting of the sideline.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick immediately distanced himself from the incident and was reportedly furious when he learned about it. Per Howe, Belichick said, “I have no involvement in this and no knowledge of it, and so I really don’t have any idea what exactly is going on. I can tell you that we’ve never, as a coaching staff and me personally, have never viewed any video footage at all of anything that those production people have done, other than what’s shown on public television or something like that. But we don’t have anything to do with what they do, so I really don’t have much knowledge of the situation at all.”

The league has not announced a timeline for its investigation, though as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, it may be difficult for the Patriots to avoid some sort of sanction given their dubious past. For what it’s worth, Belichick was fined $500K and the Patriots were stripped of a 2008 first-round draft pick when they videotaped the Jets’ sideline from an unauthorized location during a 2007 game.

Luckily for Pats fans, though, the league apparently does not believe that this incident rises to the level of the original Spygate, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Will Not Re-Sign Antonio Brown

The Patriots could really use another playmaker on offense. Quarterback Tom Brady lashed out at his teammates on the sidelines during last week’s loss to the Texans, and his frustration is understandable. As Mike Reiss of observes, Brady is averaging the fewest yards per attempt (6.72) since the 2002 season, and part of the reason is that his receivers just aren’t getting open. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Brady has thrown the most tight-window passes over the past three weeks, completing just 30% of them.

Ian Rapoport of (video link) says that Brady has been spending a great deal of time with his wide receivers in the team facility and that he has tried to be more of a leader than he has been in recent seasons, and if the Pats are going to turn things around on offense, the improvement will have to come in-house. Rob Gronkowski is now ineligible to return this year, and as Adam Schefter of writes, the Patriots will not bring back Antonio Brown.

Schefter’s report hardly comes as a surprise, as New England beat writers had the same news in over the past several weeks, and Brown’s recent social media post questioning Patriots owner Robert Kraft‘s desire to win didn’t exactly endear himself to Kraft (who hadn’t shown an inclination to re-sign Brown anyway).

Still, recent reports indicating that Patriots players and coaches would welcome Brown back invited public speculation that a reunion could be in the works, even though the NFL’s investigation into the sexual assault/rape allegations against Brown is still ongoing. Brown could be suspended when the investigation finally does conclude, and given how close we are to the end of the season, it wouldn’t make much sense for any team to sign Brown at this point.

Schefter does says Brown will find work once the league has issued its decision, and he notes that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has maintained regular contact with a handful of teams. But that work won’t come with the Patriots, who, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, are heading for a major organizational change in 2020. Many expect 2019 to be Brady’s last year in New England, and La Canfora suggests that head coach Bill Belichick and/or high-profile members of his staff could also be on the move.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Belichick, Packers, Garrett

Ben Volin of The Boston Globe dives into the tape of the Patriots 13-9 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday to explore the ways New England shutdown one of the most prolific offenses in football. Pats head coach Bill Belichick has long been one of the best defensive minds in football and Dallas tight end Jason Witten explained how Sunday’s scheme caused problems,“Even though it’s cover 0, it’s really not. When you think cover 0, you think all-out pressure and man-to-man [coverage]. But they’re dropping out to play whole help, so they have help coming inside. As receivers and quarterbacks, it puts a lot of pressure on you.”

The Pats defense may be one of the most aggressive units in the NFL, but that aggressiveness does not come with the greater risk we have come to expect. Volin notes that while New England has the tenth highest blitz rate in the league, their creative defensive scheme, which includes intricate decoys, limits an opponents ability to take advantage.

  • The Packers have one of the younger assistant coaching staffs in football under rookie head coach Matt LaFleur, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Tom Silverstein and LeRoy Butler of the Milwaukee Sentinel debate whether that could explain the inability for such a talented unit to really dominate opponents and get shutdown by the 49ers this past week. Silverstein opines that a more experienced staff might be better equipped to scheme their team advantages.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once again offered strong public comments surrounding Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. This morning on Good Morning Football, Jones was asked about Garrett and responded, “I don’t have to win the Super Bowl in business every year. I can come in 6th and have a hell of a year. But in this business, you gotta come in first. I want Jason to get it done.” While the statement does not say anything definitively, it does suggest a certain level of ultimatum for his head coach: win the Super Bowl or else.