The NFL appears to be staying on schedule this week, with the legal tampering period opening today at 12 noon, then the new league year and free agency beginning on Wednesday at 4pm. Today, teams can begin negotiating with free agents, which means Tom Brady will be free to talk with any interested parties for the first time in his career.
Over the weekend, we gained a little bit of clarity as far as Brady's market is concerned. The Tennessee Titans extended quarterback Ryan Tannehill, removing them from the Brady sweepstakes after long being a favorite to land the quarterback. With a connection to Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel, along with a talented array of young weapons, the Titans appeared to be a good fit for Brady and one that gained plenty of traction of late. But now, the Titans are out.
In recent weeks, the San Francisco 49ers had been rumored to emerge as another landing spot for Brady, but that was shot down on Sunday after a report from Chris Simms that the 49ers were also out on Brady. More interesting to Patriots fans was Simms' report that San Francisco was Brady's "top choice." After Jimmy Garoppolo had just led them to a Super Bowl appearance, it was curious that the 49ers would be interested in making the switch to Brady. Now it appears that there was more smoke than fire, perhaps coming primarily from the Brady camp to drum up interest.
The bottom line now is that Brady's market could effectively be down to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have said they'll be in on Brady, the LA Chargers, who still have interest according to Ian Rapoport, and a return to the Patriots, unless another under-the-radar team makes their interest known in the coming hours. After weeks of speculation, the Raiders seem to have faded from consideration but still can't be completely ruled out.
It should be a crazy couple of days, as Brady's future is determined amid a global pandemic.
Again, if no extension with the Patriots is reached before the new league year starts, the team will have to eat a $13.5 million cap hit from Brady's previous deal. Working something out before then would be ideal and, with a new CBA in place, the team should be able to get creative to get it done.
Captains Come Back
Devin McCourty took to Youtube to confirm that he has signed a two-year extension with the Patriots, making him the second captain to sign a new deal with the team prior to the start of free agency. McCourty joins Matthew Slater as the two first significant moves of the 2020 offseason, vital signings that ensure key pieces of the leadership structure will remain with intact for the next two seasons.
Drafted by the Pats in 2008 and 2010 respectively, it would now appear that both Slater and McCourty will finish their careers in New England. As the team enters the unknown with Brady, it's reassuring to know that Slater and McCourty aren't going anywhere.
Restricted Free Agents Update
The Patriots are also reportedly tendering some of their restricted free agents. Adam Butler will be tagged with a second-round designation. It's been an impressive climb for the 2017 undrafted free agent who has not missed a game in his three-year career. Butler has primarily served as an interior designated pass rusher and had a career-high six sacks in 2019.
Jermaine Eluemanor will be tagged with an original round tender per Ian Rapoport, he entered the league as a fifth-round pick. The Patriots picked up the guard and a sixth-round pick for a fourth-rounder just before the start of the 2019 regular season and he played just 29 offensive snaps. He'll provide depth along the interior and could find himself competing to replace Joe Thuney.
Stay tuned to Patriots.com for more free agency updates as they happen!