If you love something, set it free and it returns, then it’s meant to be.
Apparently, if a report from the NFL Network is to be believed, that’s Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s plan regarding his team and the impending free agency of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.
NFL Network reports that the reason Brady’s contract voids and the quarterback could hit the open market for the first time in his 20-year NFL career is that Kraft believes that it’s the best scenario for all involved at this point in their relationship.
“There is a pretty good reason that owner Robert Kraft and Tom Brady have worked closely on several deals in the past. There is a reason why the option was to allow Brady to test free agency, to not get franchised, to not get transitioned, just to have a clear path toward free agency,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said. “And from what I understand, Kraft’s thinking on this was basically if the sides came together, if Brady decided that the Patriots were his best option after testing free agency and if Bill Belichick, who of course is making the decisions for New England, if he decides that Brady is his best option at this price, then in the end after all of this, after going through everything, that it will mean that it’s basically meant to be and that it’s the best thing for all sides. Kraft wanted them to get apart, to see what’s out there and try to come together in the middle. And the hope is if that works out for 2020 that everyone will be happy they went through the process.”
Brady’s contract will void March 18 and he’ll be free to sign with another NFL team at that point. His representatives can begin talking with other franchises on March 16, the opening of a two-day window known as the “legalized tampering” period of free agency.
If Brady’s contract does void and he hits free agency without an extension with New England, the team will have to carry $13.5 million of dead money on its salary cap for 2020, leftover from the retooled contract Brady signed with the Patriots last summer. If Brady were to ink an extension with the team before March 18, that cap hit could be split in half over the next two seasons.
While any new contract could be structured to balance out the $13.5 million in dead money over the life of the deal, there is some financial benefit to the sides reaching an agreement before free agency.
But according to NFL Network, that’s apparently not what Kraft has planned.