BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — We are 36 days away from the start of NFL Free Agency, and on the Brady Watch front, things may be going to plan.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Patriots owner Robert Kraft feels that the best way to keep Tom Brady in Foxborough is to let him see what's out there, with the hope that the quarterback will realize the best place for him is New England.
The plan is basically along the same lines as the Richard Bach quote about relationships: "If you love someone set them free, if they come back they're yours..."
The Pats have employed this same strategy with success in the past with star players who hit free agency like Julian Edelman, Dont'a Hightower, and Devin McCourty to name a few. All three came back after visiting with other teams and ended up taking team friendly deals in the end, valuing the familiarity and potential to win Super Bowl(s) in New England, rather than the big payday elsewhere.
Brady is obviously a different case, quarterbacks usually are, and we've seen this strategy back fire on the Pats too (Wes Welker), but Rapoport says this is all part of Kraft's plan.
"My understanding is, Kraft's thinking was basically, if the two sides came together, if Brady decided the Patriots were his best option, after testing free agency, and if Bill Belichick, who's making the decision for New England, decides Brady is his best option at this price, in the end after going through everything, that it will mean it's meant to be."
If Brady returns at a team friendly discount, it will be with the hope that the team will go out and acquire more "weapons" for him on offense.
Rapoport was later joined by Patriots Insider Mike Giardi on NFL Network, who said it's his understanding that the Patriots have a salary number in mind for Brady, and he would have to take it if he wants the team to go out and acquire more talented pass catchers.
On the non-New England front of Brady Watch, one of the potential free agent destinations has officially moved on from their quarterback.
The Los Angeles Chargers announced Monday that they and Philip Rivers, their starting quarterback for the past 14 seasons, have mutually agreed to part ways.
"We talked through various scenarios, it became apparent that it would be best for Philip and the Chargers to turn the page on what has truly been a remarkable run. We agreed that making this decision well before free agency would allow everyone to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020," Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco said in a statement.
The Chargers have been one of the more popular rumored destinations for Brady since his 2019 season ended, Los Angeles has the cap space to make it work, young wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to go along with Melvin Gordon at running back, and they also have a top-ten draft choice which they could either trade for more talent or draft a young quarterback to sit behind Brady for however long he chooses to keep playing.
Brady is not allowed to have discussions with any team besides the Patriots until March 16th at 4 pm, when the legal tampering period begins. Free agency begins 48-hours later on March 18th.
WBZ NewsRadio's Dan Watkins (@DanWatkinsRadio) reports