Where will New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady play in 2020? It's one of the biggest questions of the offseason, and the answer could have a major impact on how things play out for other pending free agents.
For one, Brady is likely to be at the top of the wish list for a few teams—though, according to ESPN's Dianna Russini, the market for him isn't as substantial as one might think. Second, if Brady doesn't return to New England, the Patriots will become a prime destination for other free-agent quarterbacks.
The list of pending free-agent quarterbacks includes Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
Ryan Tannehill, who led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC title game in 2019, is also on that list. However, the Titans are making Tannehill their No. 1 priority, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
Perhaps the bigger question surrounding Brady is whether the Patriots actually want to bring him back.
According to WEEI's Dale Arnold, they do, but on their terms:
"What I was told happened was the Patriots told Tom Brady that all they can do is a one-year deal at less money than he made last year because of the $13.5 million that gets tacked on to the salary cap and basically, 'What we're going to be able to do here Tom, is a one-year deal, but it's not going to be for as much money as you got last year.'"
If the Patriots do indeed only want Brady on a one-year deal and at a vastly below-market price, the six-time champion may balk.
While Brady will prioritize a potential playoff run over a paycheck, he probably would like New England to acknowledge his value to the franchise.
"Tom can turn a non-playoff team into one," one NFC assistant coach said, per Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, "and a playoff team into a Super Bowl team."
Telling Brady that his only option is a one-year deal is not something an appreciative franchise would do.
On Tannehill, the Titans and Derrick Henry
The Titans appear to be closing in on a deal with Tannehill. While there was some speculation that Tennessee would pursue Brady—the fact that head coach Mike Vrabel is a former teammate played a role there—the feeling is that Brady would only be an option if Tannehill leaves in free agency.
Russini said as much on Get Up, while also acknowledging that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be a fit for Brady.
"In the end, they want to go with Ryan Tannehill," Russini said.
It also seems that if Tannehill does return, it will be as a package deal with 2019 rushing leader Derrick Henry.
According to Rapoport, the Titans plan to bring Henry back with a sizeable contract:
As Rapoport noted, Tennessee parted with running back Dion Lewis in a cap-saving move. They also released veteran edge-rusher Cameron Wake alongside Lewis. Tight end Delanie Walker and kicker Ryan Succop were released on Friday.
According to Jim Wyatt of the team's official website, Walker had "failed physical" attached to his designation.
Walker has been with the Titans since 2013 but was only healthy for eight games over the past two seasons. At 35 years old and coming off an ankle injury that put him on injured reserve, Walker may not garner much interest on the open market.
Drew Brees Not Seeking "Top Dollar"
While the Titans are working to bring back Tannehill, the New Orleans Saints are presumably doing the same with quarterback Drew Brees. According to Rapoport, Brees is willing to play on a team-friendly contract to make it happen.
"From my understanding, for this contract, Brees is not expected to demand top dollar," he said on NFL Network. "I would expect a contract more in line with what he made last year, which was a two-year deal, an average of $25 million."
Rapoport believes that such a deal will allow the Saints to sign another free agent that they otherwise might not be able to afford with Brees on a market contract.
As things stand, the Saints are slated to have just over $12 million in cap space. That's including a $15.9 million cap hit for Brees on a year that will automatically void on March 18. Ideally, New Orleans will get their quarterback extended before then.