Patriots Rumors: Latest on Tom Brady Contract Negotiations Amid 49ers Buzz

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 16, 2020

FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks to the sideline after throwing an interception late in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough, Mass. Nearly every one of the NFL's eight divisions has a team or teams with a quarterback quandary. With the exception of the NFC West it's easy to argue that there's a major hole behind center somewhere. Yep, after two decades of unmatched success, Tom Brady is without a contract. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)
Bill Sikes/Associated Press

The majority of the offseason buzz surrounding the New England Patriots has involved Tom Brady's future with the franchise. 

Since the team was eliminated in the AFC divisional round, the 42-year-old's next move has been speculated upon by analysts and fans alike. 

Entering Monday, Brady's decision is reportedly down to the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per NBC Sports' Chris Simms:

"The 49ers are out on Tom Brady. That is not going to happen. From my understanding, it was Tom Brady's No. 1 choice to go to San Francisco and be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. They will be standing pat with Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback."

"From everything I've heard, it's down to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots. I don't think the New England Patriots would be willing to give Tom Brady $30 million a year type of money," Simms continued." 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported late Sunday that Brady and the Patriots were not close on agreeing to a contract. 

"Tom Brady does not have anything close to a deal in New England yet," Schefter said. 

Brady had a $21.5 million salary cap hit during the 2019 season and the franchise tag can't be used on him for the 2020 campaign, per SpotracThat means if the Patriots and the veteran come to terms on a deal, it would be outside any set total that the franchise tag would allow. 

Another option the Patriots have is to bring in a veteran quarterback, like Andy Dalton, through a trade to replace Brady. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport went through the possible trade options for Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals during an on-air segment at the NFL combine:

"They are not going to send Andy Dalton anywhere he does not want to go. They are going to work with him on a potential trade. 

"It does not sound like there have been any hard-core negotiations between teams and the Bengals, but they are certainly looking at it. Among the names to consider: the Chicago Bears are one of the teams that would have some potential interest. Right here in Indianapolis, the Colts, who of course have been linked to Philip Rivers pretty heavily, they are expected to have some interest as well. And if the Patriots lose Tom Brady, one of their backup plans may end up being Andy Dalton." 

While Dalton, or any other replacement, would be viewed as a downgrade from six-time Super Bowl champion, the Patriots need to have a contingency plan in place in case Brady decides to leave. 

Jameis Winston, who is scheduled to become a free agent after the Buccaneers placed the franchise tag on Shaquil Barrett, could be another in-league option.

Brady threw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2019, and while those were not his best numbers, they could be viewed as better than what Dalton or Winston produced. 

Dalton rotated in and out of Cincinnati's starting job and threw for 3,494 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Winston totaled 5,109 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. 

If either player arrived in New England, there would be flaws the coaching staff has to work on or manage through to keep the Patriots on top of the AFC East. 

The Patriots could also turn to the 2020 NFL draft to pick the quarterback of the future, but they would have to trade up from No. 23 overall to get one of the premier prospects in the draft class.

All of those options could be considered if Brady does not return, and unless negotiations heat up in the coming days, New England should at least explore them to prepare for the worst-case scenario of losing its franchise quarterback.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

Contract information obtained from Spotrac.