MIAMI — Despite the New England Patriots’ absence from Super Bowl LIV, Tom Brady’s next move has been a popular topic of conversation this week in South Florida.
On Thursday, former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest shared his thoughts on the 42-year-old quarterback’s impending free agency.
McGinest, who now works as an analyst for NFL Network, said any legitimate Brady suitor will need a talented roster and a like-minded coaching staff. He also believes the Patriots, Brady’s only NFL employer to date, will “have first crack” at attempting to re-sign the six-time Super Bowl champion.
“It’s tough,” McGinest said. “I have not spoken to Tom about his future or what he’s got going on, but I do know — like everyone knows — he has options. You don’t play as great as he played for as long as he’s played — and consistently — and not have options. And I think he’s in a place where he’s going to take his time. I do know that. I know his family weighs in heavily on his decision.
“The team that he’s going to go to, I definitely know has got to have — if it’s not the Patriots; if that doesn’t happen — resources, as far as personnel. He’s not in rebuild mode. He probably wants to play two or three more years; he’s not in rebuild mode where he’s trying to start up and you put pieces around him and do all that. There’s got to be players around him on both sides of the ball.
“And I think it’s got to be a good fit. The people who he will play for are the people who can see football like he’s learning and how he sees it, and I think he’s going to take his time. I do think, just because of the relationship and the respect, that the Patriots will have first crack at whatever happens. The conversations will initially start there.”
A lack of reliable depth at wide receiver and tight end hamstrung the Patriots’ offense this season, during which Brady posted some of the worst numbers of his career. If Brady and the Patriots do not reach an agreement on a contract extension by March 18, he would become an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
“For me, selfishly, I want to see him retire as a Patriot,” McGinest said. “I didn’t get an opportunity to do that. I left, and then I came back and retired as a Patriot. That was one of my best moments, and I think that’s special — not only to him, but to his family, his legacy, all he’s done in New England. I think he deserves that.”