By Ben Kelley
February 28, 2020
Ben is a first-year undergraduate BGSU student from Uniontown, Ohio. He is a sport management major and a journalism minor. His primary interests include professional and collegiate football.
Over the last few weeks, sports media have been hurling football fans into a tornado of Tom Brady rumors. On Thursday, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that Brady is anticipating entering free agency. However, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Patriots plan on retaining Brady’s services and are awaiting changes to the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union before discussing a contract. In addition, Rapoport claimed that the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, and Los Angeles Chargers have been in contact with a party representing Brady (Shapiro, 2020). Finally, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported that the Patriots have been looking into bringing in the Tennessee Titans’ Marcus Mariota (“2020 NFL Scouting Combine,” 2020). Each of those reports came out on February 27th, which has left another layer on the confusing pile of Tom Brady news.
However, sports media seems to have left one rock unturned in their search to provide an accurate report about Brady’s future. Why has that rock gone unturned? Possibly because it isn’t about the future, but about the past. Specifically, it is about Peyton Manning in the 2012 offseason. After spending fourteen seasons in Indianapolis, Peyton was cut by the Colts and found himself in a situation similar to what Brady is about to experience (“Colts release Peyton,” 2012). Since Peyton has set the blueprint for what can be expected out of free agency for future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, that blueprint can be used to give an idea as to what Brady’s football life may look like over the next month.
First, after Peyton was released, roughly half of the league conveyed interest in the Colts’ former signal caller (Mortensen & Schefter, 2012). What does this information mean for Brady? He can expect way more attention than what he is currently receiving. Again, only about four teams have contacted Brady’s agent, so Brady should consider preparing to answer for about ten more interested employers.
Sports media and sports fan alike should also prepare for surprises. When Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are looking for a new team, no player is safe. The Denver Broncos, who won a playoff game in 2011, would end up replacing starter Tim Tebow with Manning. So, it might be wise for every quarterback to check their job security, no matter their success.
The outlier between each of these cases is the status of the players’ former teams. Since the Colts cut Manning, it is safe to say that they had zero interest in signing him. As a result, the Colts did not have to worry about stocking up their roster to attract a Super-Bowl winning quarterback. The Patriots, however, did not cut Brady, and if they want him, they might have to earn him back. Earning back Tom Brady could be tricky, as Brady’s wish list could get expensive. After a season where the Patriots’ receivers and tight ends found little success, the team could be looking into bringing in a high-level wide receiver or tight end. A signing of this nature could be enough to bring back Brady. However, the Patriots will also need to look at reloading the defense, with at least three defensive starters set to hit free agency. As if that laundry list isn’t long enough, the Patriots’ Joe Thuney, a 2nd Team All-Pro guard in 2019, is about to enter free agency and could reset the market for interior offensive linemen. Retaining each of these players would be impossible with the salary cap, so cuts, cheap veterans, or rookie starters should be expected.
There’s also the possibility that within the next seven years, a quarterback like Brady could be hitting free agency and may need a blueprint to guide them through free agency. There could also be a team like the Patriots, who may need a blueprint for life after losing their Hall-of-Fame quarterback without an immediate starter set to take over. Now would be the best time for sports media to start taking their notes in preparation.
2020 NFL Scouting Combine: Latest news and rumors around the NFL. (2020, February 27). Pro Football Talk. Retrieved from https://www.profootballnetwork.com/2020-nfl-scouting-combine-latest-news-rumors/
Colts release Peyton Manning. (2012, March 7). ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/7656028/indianapolis-colts-peyton-manning-part-ways-14-seasons
Mortensen, C., & Schefter, A. (2012, March 11). ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/7672173/2012-free-agency-peyton-manning-favors-denver-broncos-arizona-cardinals-sources-say
Shapiro, M.. (2020, February 27). Rumors swirl over Tom Brady’s future with Patriots. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/nfl/2020/02/27/nfl-rumors-tom-brady-patriots-unlikely-return