New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady remains one of the biggest names on the NFL free-agent market. While other high-profile players—like Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and Jack Conklin—have been agreeing to heft contracts, the 42-year-old is still weighing his options.
Those options, it seems, appear to be dwindling.
The Tennessee Titans, a team with some connections to Brady—head coach Mike Vrabel is a former Patriots teammate—were a popular hypothetical destination. However, they signed Ryan Tannehill to a four-year extension on Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers had been tumbling around the rumor mill, but Chris Simms of NBC Sports fanned away that smoke before the start of the "legal tampering" period.
"That is not going to happen," he said.
Now, with the official start of free agency fast approaching (4 p.m. ET on Wednesday), Brady may be down to three teams.
The Patriots are one of them, though they only offered the six-time champion a one-year deal worth less than he made in 2019, according to WEEI's Dale Arnold.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Brady wasn't close to reaching a deal with New England ahead of free-agency week, which could indicate he'll be on the move:
"We're about to embark upon free agency, and Tom Brady does not have anything close to a deal in New England yet. Now, I know people think 'He's going back to New England.' What makes them think that? Why would they think that now, when this has been going on since he put the motion into place, where basically he voided the contract. There haven't been any substantial contract negotiations. There hasn't been anything that resembles a deal. Why do people think now that all of a sudden at the 24th hour, something's going to get done that hasn't gotten done in the previous weeks and months. I don't understand that."
If Brady does return to New England, it will likely be on the Patriots' terms; if he doesn't, it appears that he has two primary other options.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers are also interested in the quarterback:
Of these two, the Buccaneers appear to be the most interested in the Michigan product. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, they plan to go after Brady hard.
"This is not hype. It's hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs' play," he wrote.
NFL Network's Michael Giardi reported that Tampa has made its intentions clear to Brady, suggesting he has at least one serious offer on the table:
If the Chargers and the Patriots are serious about signing Brady, they may have to move quickly. It would be a mild surprise if he hasn't agreed to a deal before the official start of free agency.