While the offseason has brought unprecedented speculation about Tom Brady’s future in New England, owner Robert Kraft recently noted that “neither side” has an issue with the future Hall of Famer’s contract.
“If it becomes an issue,” Kraft added, “we’ll deal with it.”
The Patriots might find themselves dealing with the matter sooner than Kraft imagined.
Amid national and local stories calling into question Brady’s commitment to returning for 2018, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday that the franchise quarterback is seeking a new contract before the upcoming season.
“It’s not a pressing issue,” Garafolo emphasized on Wednesday’s edition of NFL Up to the Minute. “It’s not anything that is contentious right now. But Brady would absolutely be interested in revisiting this contract.”
The Patriots have a history of extending Brady’s deal with two years remaining on the standing contract. In which case, it’s not unreasonable for Brady to expect a renegotiation with an annual average of $14 million due in the final two years of his current agreement.
That said, neither Rapoport nor Garafolo believes Wednesday’s reports represent a ploy by Brady to expedite those talks. In fact, Brady’s public statements on the matter have left no doubt that he intends to return for a 19th NFL season.
“Tom Brady is going to play in 2018,” Rapoport explained. “He said it. Everyone close to him has said it. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said it. The Patriots are going forward with the very strict and stern belief that he will be playing for 2018. I don’t get the sense that they considered any of these reports this morning about ‘maybe he doesn’t play.’
“I also know Brady is planning a little passing camp with some of his buddies before training camp. That does not sound like the kind of the thing you would do if you were not going to play in 2018.”
Even if Brady’s return is in the bank, the Patriots have little depth behind a 40-year-old starter with an uncertain future beyond this year. They will be in the market for a quarterback in the early rounds of the upcoming draft.
The team’s pre-draft due diligence includes private workouts with Day 2 prospects Kyle Lauletta of Richmond and Luke Falk of Washington State, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Since Brady crossed the age-30 barrier in 2007, New England has added four quarterbacks — Kevin O’Connell, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett — in the draft’s first three rounds.
Whether Brady lands a new contract or not, he’s almost certain to have a new quarterback under his wing this season.