Even though the Patriots are not playing in the Super Bowl, they will still be one of the biggest storylines of the week, most notably Tom Brady.
Will the 42-year-old leave New England as a free agent, or will he ultimately stay with the organization he’s spent the last 20 years with?
As we all know from the Patriots playing in the game so much of late, the majority of the talk during the week with the entire football world gathered in one place is never about the game itself. It will not be a week of breaking down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense against the 49ers defense, rather it will be a week of discussing the biggest storylines in the NFL.
And right now, the biggest is Brady’s future. All the interviews on radio row throughout the week will feature some question relating to the greatest quarterback to ever play the game and what he will do in the coming weeks. Also, any “report” or speculation by an informed media member that gets surfaced on the situation will get magnified because of the lack of real news on the subject.
Just look at what happened with Adam Schefter’s comments on “Get Up” and Jason La Canfora’s “report” this week. While both really said nothing, they dominated the news cycles on their given days. Expect that to happen a great deal over the course of the next seven days. While Brady and the Patriots will not be in Miami, it will be hard to walk around the media center/radio row and not hear them being discussed.
If Brady were to leave New England, the teams mentioned most are the Chargers and Raiders. There’s no question those two make the most sense, but remember when Peyton Manning left Indianapolis? The Broncos weren’t mentioned at all and then sort of came out of nowhere. Don’t be surprised come March to see a surprise team or two enter the conversation and be serious contenders. Who could potentially be one of these teams? Keep an eye on Indianapolis.
Speaking of Manning, Peyton’s brother Eli has been in the news of late with his retirement announcement late last week.
The discussion then turned into is he a Hall of Famer? The short answer is no. Yes, he beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, but are we really putting someone in the Hall of Fame for two games? Sure, he had nice playoff runs too, but that is just a small part of the equation. Think about the era he played in — was he a top five quarterback year in and year out? No, he wasn’t. Wins are not everything since it is a team sport, but he finished his career 117-117 as a starter. He also had double-digit interceptions all 14 seasons he started all 16 games. If you have to really think about if a player is a Hall of Famer, it probably means he isn’t.
It will be interesting to see what kind of role Jedd Fisch will have with the Patriots offense. Perhaps it’s as simple as he replaces Joe Judge as wide receivers coach, but maybe it’s something unique like he had with the Rams as “assistant offensive coordinator” and then “senior offensive assistant” before that. With that being said, that isn’t something Bill Belichick usually does. Also, it’s worth noting Fisch comes from a team that runs the West Coast offense, which isn’t what New England runs at all. Don't expect a formal announcement from the Patriots any time soon.
With the early playoff exit, it’s given the Patriots’ coaching staff a head start on their draft prep beginning this week with the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Could this lead to a better draft come April? It’s hard to definitively say, but the last time the Patriots missed out on the Super Bowl and had more time devoted to the draft (2016), it produced one of the better ones in recent years. While Cyrus Jones was a miss, it also produced Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Vincent Valentine, Malcolm Mitchell, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Elandon Roberts and Ted Karras.
While it ultimately doesn’t matter at all, it’s fun to think about — who are Belichick and Brady rooting for in the Super Bowl? Does Brady want Jimmy Garoppolo to win his first Super Bowl as a starter? What about Belichick, or is he pulling for good friend Andy Reid to get his first one as a head coach? It will likely never even be known, but it could make for a fun discussion at some point this week.
Looking to keep up with the Super Bowl media schedule? Opening Night will be Monday at Marlins Park aired live on NFL Network. Kansas City will go first at 7 p.m. followed by an hour break and then the 49ers at 9 p.m. On Tuesday, select players from each team will speak at the team hotels and then the entire team and coaching staffs will be available Wednesday and Thursday at their respective hotels. There is no availability Friday and Saturday, although Saturday features the NFL Honors show with the yearly awards being handed out, and then also the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be announced earlier in the night.