Tom Brady Is the First Free Agency Domino to Fall

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With the rest of the sporting world silenced by the COVID-19 outbreak, all eyes turn to the NFL for a bit of normalcy.  As it stands right now, things are set to kickoff on Monday with the NFL's legal tampering period.  Starting Monday, teams will have the opportunity to begin negotiating with players who are set to become unrestricted free agents when their current contracts expire at 4pm on Wednesday.


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At that time, free agents will be allowed to officially sign a contract.  So, as early as Monday we could know where Tom Brady will be playing football next year, but it can't become official until Wednesday afternoon.

There are generally a flurry of moves when free agency kicks off, as there are generally backdoor communications all offseason long; even if the NFL's rules against tampering forbid this.  While that's certainly a possibility again this year, don't be surprised if some players, and teams, take a wait and see approach.

Brady is certainly the biggest free agent in New England sports history, and one of the biggest in the history of the NFL.  Yes, he's 43, and coming off a down year, but he's still going to be a better short-term option than every other free agent quarterback, and is still a top-10 quarterback in the league; which makes me think his free agency decision will have a domino effect.
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I'm not saying that the league is going to come to a halt until Brady makes his decision, but there will certainly be some dramatic pauses.  With a commitment from Brady, teams may start to target players they wouldn't have otherwise.  On the flip side, other free agents may give a second thought to a team they initially had no interest in because that team's Super Bowl chances have increased by landing Brady.

Most importantly though, Brady's decision will determine the direction the Patriots are headed in for the next couple of years.  If Brady and the Patriots come to an agreement, then they turn their attention towards building a team capable of winning a championship this year.

If Brady heads elsewhere, that's not an option.  Obviously, Bill Belichick's goal with or without Brady will be to build a championship caliber team.  But there is no quarterback available - other than Brady - that give the Patriots a chance at competing for a Super Bowl this season.  They may still compete for a playoff spot, but that would be the ceiling.

Outside of a shocking acquisition - say if the 49ers moved on from Jimmy Garoppolo which has been tossed around - a Brady-less New England team is 10-6 at best, but more likely in the 7-9 or 8-8 area.  Yes, the team won 11 games with Matt Cassel in 2008, but he had Randy Moss, Wes Welker and an actual tight end in Ben Watson to throw to.  They also went 2-4 against playoff teams that year, and lost three of those games by 20+ points.

While I'm not as down on the current receiving corps as the rest of the fan base, they aren't anywhere near the caliber of Moss and Welker.  Bottom line is - without Brady these next couple seasons become rebuilding ones.  I'm not ready for that.

After all this man has done for this team over the past 20 years, and with all of the joy he has brought into our lives, the idea of him in another uniform makes me want to vomit.  This team is going to have to rebuild eventually, I'll happily delay that for another year of Brady.

Though Brady's decision will speak volumes about the Patriots' direction, we may also be able to learn some things based on ancillary moves.  Until Brady makes his decision, every single move made by a team rumored to be interested in him is going to be dissected like a rat in an 8th grade science class.

At the moment, there's no really no real indication as to what Brady's plans are.  Both Brady, and the Patriots, appear to be doing a bit of posturing.  There are reports indicating Brady's free agency market will be robust, while conflicting reports state that there won't be very many teams interested in signing the 43-year-old quarterback.  We're going to find out who is right soon enough...unless.

Unless things change.  We've seen how quickly things are changing in the current environment, so there's always the chance that the NFL pushes back the start of the league year, thus delaying free agency.

The only thing I know for certain is that if I lose the Boston Celtics, March Madness and Tom Brady all in the same week, I'm going to need some wellness checks from my friends and family.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Tom Brady Is the First Free Agency Domino to Fall
Tom Brady Is the First Free Agency Domino to Fall
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