Tom Brady

AFC Rumors: Clowney, Brady, Brown, Browns

Two franchise-tagged edge defenders changed teams this offseason, with Dee Ford leaving Kansas City and Frank Clark arriving. Trades for tagged players after the July 15 extension deadline are obviously rarer, but John McClain of the Houston Chronicle expects the Texans to deal away Jadeveon Clowney before the season (Twitter link). NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo agrees but wonders (Twitter link) if the talented defender’s Houston departure will instead come in 2020. The 26-year-old edge presence plans to return to his current team in late August.

Clowney is tethered to a $15.9MM cap number, which is a point of contention for the outside linebacker’s camp because of his greater usage as a defensive end, and cannot be extended by any team until after the regular season ends. The Texans discussed a Clowney trade with the Chiefs, but they opted for a Clark deal soon after. McClain cites the team, despite drafting Tytus Howard in Round 1 and signing Matt Kalil, needing a left tackle as a reason Clowney has a better chance of being traded than suiting up for Week 1.

Clowney’s trade value will not be as high as it was before July 15, however, so the Texans would have to factor this into the equation. They could tag him again in 2020 and continue this long-drawn-out process, potentially revving up the tag-and-trade scenario at that point — when they would likely have a GM again.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Although Tom Brady agreed to an in-name-only extension, setting him up for potential 2020 free agency, and put his house on the market, the Patriots quarterback continues to maintain he would like to play past his 45th birthday. That has long been the 42-year-old passer’s goal, and he reiterated it during an appearance on WEEI (via Pro Football Talk) this week. Brady’s post-2019 status, though, is murky.
  • The redone contract Brady agreed to will place a $21.5MM cap number on the Patriots’ books, Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets. This is down $5.5MM from his previous 2019 cap hold. In doing this, the Patriots, as of Tuesday, possess $15.15MM in cap space (17th-most in the NFL).
  • We have learned plenty about the importance Antonio Brown places on in-game headgear over the past several days. Now, the Raiders receiver is enlisting the help of Twitter followers in hopes of finding a newer brand of his preferred helmet — a Schutt AiR Advantage. The NFL has given Brown the go-ahead here, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, since the NOCSAE could certify a helmet that is less than 10 years old. But it may be difficult for Brown to succeed on this front. This model was discontinued in 2009, per the Toronto Sun’s John Kryk, and a helmet-industry source (we are deep in the weeds here) said any post-production models of this helmet will likely be unavailable so many years later. However, Drew Rosenhaus told Florio his client apparently located “a few” 2010 models and is searching for one from 2011 — to potentially get two more years to wear this type of helmet.
  • Antonio Callaway‘s failed drug test, which will cost him four games, evidently did not occur this offseason. The second-year Browns wide receiver has not failed a test since the end of last season, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. Since, the 2018 fourth-round pick has been in a comprehensive drug treatment program. Callaway entered the NFL in stage 1 of the league’s drug treatment program, because of a diluted sample at the Combine — which the Florida alum admitted was an attempt to mask marijuana use — and can be tested up to 10 times per month. Several violations needed to have occurred for him to test positive, per Cabot. Callaway was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession last summer.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Bills, Dolphins

More information continues to trickle out about Tom Brady‘s contract. The Patriots initially offered Brady another batch of incentives to start this process, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston reports (video link). Given that Brady did not capitalize on any of his 2018 incentives, it was understandable his camp balked at such a proposal. The 20th-year quarterback did not mind a year-to-year setup, and Curran adds the clause preventing the Pats from franchising him next year came about because Brady wanted autonomy for the first time. He has never played into a contract year; he will now.

Through the void years tactic, the Patriots will be tagged with just north of $13MM in dead money if Brady were to leave after 2019, Curran adds (on Twitter). In structuring the deal this way, the Patriots gained $5.5MM in cap space and the opportunity to evaluate Brady’s age-42 season without making a true commitment beyond 2019.

With news surrounding the highest-profile player in the history of the AFC East overshadowing the others, let’s look at what else is coming out of this division on Tuesday evening:

  • The Bills are still deciding between playing second-round pick Cody Ford at tackle or guard, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The bulk of Buffalo’s offensive line depth resides on the interior, with Russell Bodine, Jon Feliciano and Wyatt Teller (seven starts as a 2018 rookie) on the roster. Ford moving inside could complicate their statuses, but Mitch Morse dealing with another concussion may make the Bills opt for extra insurance on their interior. Feliciano and Teller are likely to be on the 53-man roster, per Buscaglia. Ford started a handful of games at guard in 2016 and ’17, before moving to right tackle last season.
  • T.J. Yeldon joins some of the Bills’ veteran reserve linemen on the roster bubble. The four-year Jaguar is battling special-teamer Senorise Perry for the final running back job, Buscaglia writes, adding that Yeldon appears to be losing this competition. The Bills signed Yeldon to a two-year, $3.2MM deal with $500K guaranteed. The latter figure does not exactly ensure a roster spot. But Yeldon could benefit if the Bills try to trade LeSean McCoy, which has been rumored this summer.
  • Reshad Jones has been spotted in a walking boot and a cast on his right foot, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. He has missed multiple Dolphins practices. The well-paid safety has been a trade candidate for a bit now, and moving a $17.1MM cap figure off the roster would be in line with the rebuilding team’s offseason decisions. Additionally, Jones has been working with Miami’s second-string defense, with Jackson adding that Bobby McCain and T.J. McDonald have seen the bulk of the starter reps in camp. The Dolphins may have a difficult time unloading Jones’ $12MM-AAV contract.
  • A UDFA wideout has caught Xavien Howard‘s attention. The Dolphins’ No. 1 corner tabbed rookie Preston Williams as a potential “No. 1 receiver one day,” per Jackson. A 6-foot-5 receiver out of Colorado State, Williams made an impression in minicamp and has continued to do so in pads. Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker are roster locks, Jackson adds, with Williams likely competing with Allen Hurns and Brice Butler for one of the final two slots in a likely six-man receiving corps.

Latest On Patriots, Tom Brady

The report of Tom Brady‘s through-2021 extension being made possible through the inclusion of two void years is accurate, leading the Patriots iconic quarterback into a de facto contract year. Brady will be headed toward 2020 free agency.

On Monday, more information emerged on this extension/2019 pay raise. Brady’s contract includes a provision the Patriots cannot place their franchise or transition tag on Brady in 2020, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The void years kick in on the final day of the 2019 league year, sending Brady to free agency for the first time.

While it is difficult to imagine the future Hall of Fame quarterback changing teams, this extension-in-name-only development certainly will make Brady’s status more interesting (should he decide to play next season).

Brady has obviously never hit free agency, and it still seems likely he will not next year. This contract can be renegotiated before the 2020 league year begins next March, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reporting the Patriots constructed a deal that is not categorized as one that cannot be adjusted for a calendar year. So, odds are we will hear about another Brady contract before free agency.

Brady’s 2019 pay increases to $23MM, and SI.com’s Albert Breer notes (via Twitter) the Patriots got there by giving their 20th-year quarterback a $20.25MM signing bonus and $1.75MM base salary. The other $1MM comes through 16 $62.5MM per-game roster bonuses. The Pats saved $5.5MM in cap space.

The Patriots are going into an 18th Week 1 with Brady as their starter. The parties have formed one of the greatest partnerships in American sports history, with Brady’s unparalleled longevity and Bill Belichick‘s perennially top-end defenses powering the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships. This mutually beneficial setup would seemingly stand to continue into 2020, with the Patriots having yet to identify a true Brady successor since trading Jimmy Garoppolo. But Brady is entering uncharted territory as a 42-year-old full-time starting quarterback.

With Brady voyaging into (essentially) a walk year for the first time, this season does not feature as much certainty as the Pats’ most recent post-Garoppolo campaign did. As Florio points out, a quarterback-needy team could promise Brady an offseason windfall to lure him away from New England. Considering the discounts Brady has taken in recent years, a separation from the Patriots to close his career would be quite the development.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Tom Brady, Patriots

The full breakdown of Tom Brady‘s latest Patriots contract is not yet available, but one piece of language in the deal points to the sides needing to readdress this issue in several months.

The two additional years on Brady’s deal are void years, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This is a tactic teams use to create additional cap space, and it ended up proving the Pats more than $5MM in additional 2019 funds. It essentially means Brady’s new contract amounts to a 2019 pay raise — an $8MM bump. After that, one of the longest unions in NFL history becomes less clear.

Brady and the Patriots have expressed flexibility to talk contract again next year, and Michael Giardi of NFL.com tweets the future Hall of Fame passer is “perfectly content” playing on a year-to-year basis. But the sides will need to do so to ensure the New England icon plays another season with the Patriots. Brady has repeatedly said he would like to play into his mid-40s, and Robert Kraft said during Super Bowl LIII week he would be “quite surprised” if Brady wasn’t the Patriots’ starting quarterback for “quite a while.”

The Saints used the void tactic in Drew Brees‘ most recent contract adjustment and incurred more 2020 dead money in doing so. Both the Patriots and Saints are annually committed to Super Bowl runs, so it is not surprising to see the franchises make moves to better their situations this year. Whether the Patriots make another move to further bolster their 2019 team remains to be seen.

They have been connected to Trent Williams, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic noting (subscription required) the team has explored a deal for the Washington left tackle. The Pats’ 2018 first-round pick and projected left tackle starter, Isaiah Wynn has not yet participated in a full camp practice. Wynn tore an Achilles’ tendon during training camp last year. And the subject of a Rob Gronkowski unretirement has continually surfaced in recent weeks. That would be another obvious place where the Pats’ new money could go.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More Details On Tom Brady Extension

Tom Brady will continue his streak of not playing games on an expiring contract, having agreed to a long-rumored extension Sunday. Details and fallout are still emerging from New England. Here is the latest on the Patriots’ now-42-year-old quarterback:

  • If viewed strictly through and AAV lens, Brady’s deal is on par with Russell Wilson‘s. The 20th-year quarterback’s contract is, on the surface, a two-year pact worth $70MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Brady will earn $23MM in 2019, $30MM in 2020 and $32MM in 2021 — what would be his age-44 season. However, guarantees are murky here. And this deal may well be redone yet again soon. Both Brady and the Patriots are amenable to adjusting this contract, Rapoport adds, creating a year-to-year scenario for the passer pushing the limits of quarterback longevity.
  • Brady’s agreement creates $5.5MM in additional Pats cap space, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This would push the Pats north of $14MM in available funds. It would help make room for a possible left tackle trade, with some around the league believing Trent Williams is on the defending Super Bowl champions’ radar, or a Rob Gronkowski midseason return. Or, the Patriots could simply carry over this space to help with Brady’s 2020 cost.
  • But much like Drew Brees‘ mid- and late-2000s statuses, it is likely we will hear about Brady’s contract each subsequent offseason. This deal does not ensure Brady will retire a Patriot, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes. The sides being amenable to renegotiating this accord will almost certainly mean the Patriots will attempt to do that in March, to avoid a $30MM cap hit next year, Curran adds. This merely allowed the Pats to save face by giving Brady a deserved 2019 raise and avoid a franchise tag impasse with one of the greatest players in NFL history, with Curran adding the Pats can still back out of this next year.

Patriots, Tom Brady Agree To Contract Extension

The Patriots and future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady have agreed to a contract extension, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that it’s a two-year pact, and he reports that Brady will earn $23MM this year (which is an $8MM raise over what he was scheduled to make). Rapoport adds in a separate tweet that Brady will take home $30MM in 2020 and $32MM in 2021, but both sides are amenable to adjusting those payouts if necessary. Essentially, then, the Patriots and Brady are going year-to-year at this point.

Brady, who celebrated his 42nd birthday Saturday, was scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency next year. There was never any chance that he would play for someone other than the Pats, but reports just two days ago suggested that the two sides were willing to let the situation play out and to wait until 2020 to address Brady’s future with the team.

After years of giving hometown discounts to the Patriots, some have suggested that Brady may not be feeling as generous this time around. After all, we are not too far removed from rumblings of discord in Foxborough, but the most recent reports of tension between player and team appear to have been overblown.

Indeed, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets that contract talks escalated quickly once training camp began, which is in keeping with prior negotiations between the two sides. Two of Brady’s five previous re-ups have been agreed to after training camp began.

Brady has long said that he wants to play until his mid-40s, and though he finally started to show some chinks in the armor last year, his new contract will run through his age-44 season (assuming neither Brady nor New England want to get out of the deal before then).

The Pats do not currently have a long-term successor in place, which may have incentivized the team to get something done quickly.

ESPN’s Field Yates was the first to report that a deal between Brady and the Patriots was close (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Bills

A potentially important situation that has been flying a bit under the radar is Tom Brady‘s contract. The Patriots quarterback is quietly entering the final season of his deal, and there hasn’t been any word on if there’s even been any extension talks. Right now both sides appear set to let things play out, which is interesting to say the least. If they don’t get something done then, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, New England “will have a big decision to make in early 2020.” Florio writes that the Pats will have four options, “to re-sign Brady before he becomes a free agent, whether to let him become a free agent and then try to re-sign him, whether to not even try to re-sign him at all, or whether to apply the franchise tag.”

Florio writes that in the franchise tag scenario, Brady would have “a ton of leverage,” since the tag would pay him $32.4MM, the most ever on a tag. Florio speculates that the Patriots could be hesitant to pay him that much, and he wonders whether Brady will be willing to again take a discount like he has in the past. He writes that “other teams may start poking around agent Don Yee to see if Brady wants to make a late-career change of venue, and they may start throwing around numbers that Brady would not be able to refuse.” It’s all speculative at this point, but it’s fascinating to think about. Bill Belichick can be stubborn, but the thought of him letting Brady walk is still pretty hard to believe.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of Belichick and Brady’s contract, signing Brady to a new deal “that will pay him upwards of $30M for his 43- and 44-year-old seasons gives Bill Belichick the vapors,” writes Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston. Curran writes that Brady wants an extension that ensures he retires with the Patriots but that “he’s been put off, mildly placated or — in the case of last year — downright disrespected with incentive-laden ‘sing for your supper’ incentive bonuses.” Curran seems to think that there’s real tension between the two sides, that Belichick isn’t too eager to commit anything major, and that Robert Kraft ultimately might end up intervening. Curran writes that his “feeling is that he’s going to let Kraft do this deal so that Belichick has plausible deniability in case Brady faceplants.” This will be an important situation to monitor moving forward.
  • The Dolphins fired offensive line coach Pat Flaherty earlier this week and replaced him with Dave DeGuglielmo, and DeGuglielmo has wasted no time retooling the unit. The “Dolphins made wholesale lineup changes in practice Tuesday,” to their offensive line, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. In DeGuglielmo’s first day as the offensive line coach, “rookie Michael Deiter and Will Holden took over the first team left and right guard spots, replacing Chris Reed and Jesse Davis,” Jackson writes. Davis kicked over to right tackle, sending Jordan Mills to the second team. DeGuglielmo received a lot of praise for his work as the Colts’ offensive line coach last year, and it was a surprise when he was ousted in January. He’s clearly taking charge in Miami, and it sounds like the only two locked in players on the Dolphins’ line are Laremy Tunsil at left tackle and Daniel Kilgore at center.
  • Potentially troubling news for the Bills, as center Mitch Morse is still in the concussion protocol, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (Twitter link). Morse is one of the league’s best centers when healthy, but he’s dealt with concussion issues and other injuries in his last two seasons with the Chiefs. In 2018 he played in only 11 games, and in 2017 only seven. Buscaglia notes that Bills coach Sean McDermott wouldn’t comment “about the amount of concern they might have with Morse suffering a fourth documented concussion,” since the protocol won’t allow him to. The Bills had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year, and signing Morse to his huge four-year deal was supposed to help revamp the unit. Normally a concussion this time of year wouldn’t be big news, but given Morse’s lengthy history of concussion issues this could be something that lingers. It’ll be important to monitor how he progresses.

Patriots, Tom Brady Not Close On Extension

Tom Brady has never played into a contract year, but coming into his 20th NFL training camp, the Patriots legend remains attached to his through-2019 deal. That may be the case for a bit.

The Patriots and their soon-to-be 42-year-old quarterback do not appear to be on the verge of an extension, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link). Brady’s cap number sits at $27MM — the league’s fourth-highest 2019 figure.

This news probably shouldn’t be too alarming, as it is not like the six-time Super Bowl champion is a realistic 2020 free agent. Brady and the Patriots have made a habit of late-summer re-ups. Two of Brady’s five previous extensions have been agreed to after training camp began, with 2010’s four-year, $72MM deal coming on the eve of that Patriots season opener. Brady’s first extension — a four-year, $28MM pact — was agreed to in late August of 2002.

Robert Kraft said earlier this year he would like another Brady extension to come to pass, and given the Patriots’ lack of a true successor on the roster, they certainly appear to be planning for at least a 21st Brady season. Brady has long said he would like to play into his mid-40s.

The incentive package the Patriots and Brady agreed to in 2018 does not affect the timing of another extension. Since that agreement did not change Brady’s cap number, the sides do not have to wait a year to finalize a new deal.

The Patriots have built their 2019 roster with Brady’s $27MM included; the team has just more than $6MM in cap space. A Brady deal would stand to increase the latter figure and potentially help the defending champs add pieces to their roster before the season begins. Rob Gronkowski unretirement rumors have started to gain steam; a Brady extension would help clear a path toward that reality.

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Extension Candidate: Patriots QB Tom Brady

It’s rare for an NFL player to continue his career into his 40s and even rarer for that player to be up for an extension. But, of course, most players are not like Tom Brady.

The multiple-time Super Bowl champ will be out of contract after the 2019 season after he collects on $27MM in earnings. There’s no conceivable scenario in which Brady leaves the Patriots in free agency, but it remains to be seen how the Patriots will structure Brady’s next contract or when they’ll be able to come to an accord.

Brady will turn 42 in August and the Patriots have no succession plan in place for the future Hall of Famer. Theoretically, they could cuff him with the franchise tag if no agreement can be reached, but it would come at a rate of $32.4MM for the 2020 season (a 20% increase from his current cap figure).

Historically, Brady has given the Patriots significant hometown discounts, but he might not be feeling as generous this time around. Amidst rumblings of discord in Foxboro, the Pats added $5MM in incentives to Brady’s 2018 deal. However, he did not his the statistical markers necessary to realize the full potential of the bonus package.

So, what will a new deal for Brady look like? Although Brady showed some chinks in the armor last year, he could easily make a case to join the $30MM/year club, which currently counts Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan among its members.

Meanwhile, Brady’s last deal inked in 2016 averaged out to just $20.5MM/year. Adjusted for cap inflation, that number would be somewhere around $25MM/year, which would position him as just the tenth-highest paid quarterback in terms of average annual value.

Many expect Brady to settle in at that $25MM per annum figure, but don’t be surprised if the two sides shake hands at the midway point between that number and the star’s true market value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Brady, Bosa, Bills, Dolphins

The Patriots began their their sixth offseason program as a defending Super Bowl champion team on Monday, but the player most associated with those titles was not with them. Tom Brady was not present when the Patriots opened their 2019 workouts, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This is not a surprise, with the 41-year-old quarterback’s plan of staying away until the Pats’ June minicamp again appearing to be in place. Brady set his schedule this way last year. However, Brady might have made one tweak to his offseason regimen. He may report to the Patriots a bit bigger than he did a year ago, with Rapoport adding the 20th-year veteran might be planning to put on some weight this offseason. Brady’s weight has rarely come up during his legendary run. The well-known fitness buff is listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, moving to some teams’ potential draft strategies:

  • If the Cardinals and 49ers pass on Nick Bosa, the Jets are going to take him, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News offers. If both Bosa and Josh Allen remained on the board at No. 3, Mehta writes the Jets will take the Ohio State product. Although the Jets have been linked to trade-down scenarios, entering the draft without a second-round pick, Bosa would be the kind of impact pass rusher the team may not be able to pass up. The Jets are not believed to have used one of their 30 pre-draft visits on Bosa, but it’s not like a team that tried to spend $15MM per year to convert an off-ball linebacker into a pass rusher would not have interest in a player viewed by many as the best prospect in the draft.
  • In going with Ryan Fitzpatrick and two backups (Jake Rudock and Luke Falk) who have combined to throw five NFL passes, the Dolphins probably have the thinnest quarterback depth chart in football. They plan to augment the group soon, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Miami is targeting a quarterback in this draft, but it’s not known if the team wants a first-round passer. The Dolphins have met with Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones. However, if the team most linked to a wait-until-2020 strategy regarding a starting quarterback passes on one in this draft, it is “definitely” eyeing one who could be a backup, Salguero adds. So, Miami could be a mid-round player for one of this draft’s second-tier passers.
  • Eli Harold will line up as a defensive end in Buffalo, Bills GM Brandon Beane said (Twitter link). Harold has worked as an outside linebacker in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, doing so in San Francisco and Detroit, while also used on the line at times. The Bills have Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy aligned as their starting ends, with perpetual trade candidate Shaq Lawson residing there as well.