Tom Brady Will Be Professional About Contract Dispute, But Worry Will Loom Regardless

Tom Brady Will Be Professional About Contract Dispute, But Worry Will Loom RegardlessTom Brady's contract situation has dominated headlines several times in the last couple of months.

It heightened during a report of a "growing disconnect" between Brady and the Patriots, then turned into a strange claim that Brady might hold out, a claim that was quickly slammed to the turf. 

Of course, this all happened long before Brady and New England's veterans were even scheduled to report to training camp. As the standstill continues to develop, how will Brady's contract situation affect the team?

Brady's contract expires after the 2010 season, and, given the league's labor uncertainty, it's not surprising he has yet to reach an extension with the Patriots. The NFL's unfinalized collective bargaining agreement has thwarted a number of potential contracts around the league, and Brady is no exception, his legacy in New England be damned. 

It seems like the most logical resolution would be for the Patriots to acknowledge Brady's contractual requests, lay them all out on the table, let him sign the paperwork and keep the franchise quarterback in town for another half-dozen years.

No speculation. No controversy. No way for Brady to contemplate moving closer to his home in Los Angeles. No chance for a starving franchise to come out of nowhere with a $150 million check to steal him away from New England.

But that stuff is for after the season. For the time being, Brady won't hear the end of it. After all, it's the nature of the beast.

Brady could show up to camp next week and conduct business in an utmost professional manner — there's no reason to believe he'd act otherwise — lead the meeting room, take charge on the practice field and casually brush aside questions about his contract.

Those questions, though, won't go away. Even if Brady doesn’t answer them, his teammates will hear them, his head coach will hear them and the owner will hear them. Compound that by five or six months, and it's bound to take a toll on the guys in the locker room.

And don’t think Brady's teammates aren’t paying attention, either. After all, a good chunk of them signed with the Patriots for the pure chance to play with the three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback. New England's recent draft picks almost universally glow about Brady on their initial conference calls with the local media. They want him locked up long term because it gives them a greater opportunity to keep winning, and they'll gab about his missing extension among themselves, no doubt.

Who knows how much of a distraction this will be for the 2010 Patriots? Heck, maybe they're working on a deal this very moment that will fatten Brady's wallet by the start of camp. Or maybe it will continue to linger, and linger, and linger.

One thing seems certain. Brady is far too mature and far too geared toward winning to pull a Logan Mankins, verbally slap the franchise and launch a cold war to get what he wants.

But that doesn’t mean the situation will just go away. It's not much of a reach to say this is the most anticipated contract extension in the 50-year history of the Patriots' franchise. That type of magnitude just doesn’t get ignored.

NESN.com will answer one Patriots question every day until July 24.

Friday, July 23: Who are the Patriots' leaders in 2010, and how can they help the team?

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