Tom Brady and the Patriots are currently at an impasse in contract negotiations. New England's franchise quarterback has one year left on the contract he signed back in 2005.
Although there are several possible outcomes to Tom Brady’s contract controversy, there’s only one that New England care about: any that ends with Tom Brady in a Patriots uniform.
Still, it can’t hurt to speculate, right? If only to brace New England fans for the absolute worst…
Here are my thoughts on what could happen, in no particular order.
It’s unclear exactly how far the contract negotiating has gone between Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Be that as it may, it remains a small possibility that the Patriots could get this deal done before it becomes a big deal. Robert Kraft has already expressed interest in making sure Brady remains with the Patriots "for a long time".
With so many impending free agents next season, though, the Patriots may simply be prioritizing their money before they spend it.
The Patriots are usually very patient in terms of contract extensions, and could be waiting out Brady’s current contract before getting down to business.
Perhaps the uncertainty of the current labor situation has the Patriots playing the waiting game. Regardless, I wouldn't worry too much if nothing is done by the end of 2010.
While there are many possibilities that emerge from a franchise tag, the one Pats fans should hope for is that the franchise tag is simply a bridge into a long-term deal worth big money.
Put it this way: Vince Wilfork had also hoped for a contract extension before the end of his contract, and had even criticized the Patriots for not doing so. Then, they did so...'nuff said? Not quite...
In 2009, the Patriots were faced with a dilemma at quarterback. Here they had a future Hall-of-Famer coming off major reconstructive knee surgery, and a young sensation who held the hopes of a franchise high after Brady’s downfall.
The Patriots chose to trade away the upstart for a draft pick, and stuck with Captain Clutch.
The only difference here is that the Patriots don’t have a three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback on the roster besides the one they’re trying to re-sign. I find this outcome hard to believe even if Brady (God forbid) were to go down with a season-ending injury and Brian Hoyer filled in admirably.
In a contract year, Asante Samuel tied Champ Bailey in 2006 for the league lead in interceptions with 10. The Patriots franchise tagged him in the 2007 offseason, much to the star CBs chagrin.
After a bit of fuss, Samuel played out his franchise tag in hopes that the Patriots would offer him a long-term deal.
That, however, wasn't the case. After the franchise tag was up, the Patriots let Samuel walk away to sign a long-term deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has gone on to collect 13 interceptions in two years since his departure, including a three-way tie for tops in the league yet again last year (9).
Some may be scratching their heads at this one.
The Patriots tried to give Logan Mankins nearly twice the required RFA tender, and then offered him a long-term deal after he demanded more money.
At that point, Mankins began to feel like Rodney Dangerfield (getting no respect), and has begun to demand a trade.
That being said, the Patriots could offer Brady a contract that he doesn’t like, which could cause him to feel disrespected and ask for a trade. That, to me, is a farfetched outcome, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
In 2006, Deion Branch held out for a bigger contract and was unceremoniously cast off by the Patriots.
Since then, this picture has been a common theme for Branch: being carted off the field with a debilitating injury. Subsequently, his play has suffered.
Brady's play hasn't taken a dramatic turn for the worse, but another injury similar to the one he suffered in 2008 could be career-threatening.
Nonetheless, if the Patriots allow this outcome, I don’t think the choice will look as good as releasing Branch in hindsight.
Just days before the start of the 2009 regular season, with one year left on his old deal, former All-Pro defensive end Richard Seymour was traded without remorse or warning to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round draft pick in 2011.
Although the Patriots organization proved to be a bit more player-friendly this offseason than in years past, I’d never put it past the shrewdness of Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick to flip the off switch on contract negotiations and cash in on Brady while they can.
In 2005, the New England Patriots placed the franchise tag on Adam Vinatieri and hoped to bring him back the following year, but let him walk in free agency. He joined forces with Tom Brady's biggest enemy, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
He made the Patriots pay dearly time and time again for their transgression. My gut tells me a similar situation would pan out if that's the path the Patriots choose to take.
For all that Brady has done for the organization, I can’t see the Patriots letting Tom Brady walk away in free agency without a huge fight.
That, or maybe I just can’t see the forest for the trees.
Whatever the case, the Patriots have never shied from dismissing their star talent in the past and could do the same with Tom Terrific.
Perhaps Brady's career will turn into a spastic dramatic roller coaster like this man's?
In any event, I'm sure there are a multitude of other scenarios that I haven't explored, so please drop a comment and let me know what you think of the ones I presented here and to fill me in if you think of any I missed.
Thanks for reading!