INDIANAPOLIS — Much like at Super Bowl LIV, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dominated headlines at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But Brady, and his impending free agency, was not the only Patriots-related news to come out of the combine.
Here’s what we learned about the Patriots during our time at what is essentially the NFL’s annual convention:
— The Patriots are taking it slow in free agency. This isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary for the Patriots, but only a handful of the Patriots’ impending free agents have heard from the team with the new NFL year beginning in under three weeks. Brady’s representatives are among those who have not been in contact with the Patriots. Those who recently have heard from the team are safety Devin McCourty and linebacker Jamie Collins.
— The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement, in part, has caused the Patriots to take it slow, especially with players who could collect bigger deal on the open market. A new CBA would allow the Patriots to sign Brady to a lower cap hit, for example. His contract would have to be negotiated far differently depending on whether or not a new CBA is agreed upon between players and owners.
It would be relatively surprising if players don’t agree to the new proposed CBA.
— It’s still not completely ruled out, but don’t expect the Patriots to bring back center Ted Karras and guard Joe Thuney, who expect to have strong markets in free agency among their respective position groups. It would also be in wide receiver Phillip Dorsett’s best interest to move on from the Patriots after three inconsistent seasons in New England.
— No one knows where Brady is going, including NFL teams and the QB himself, though everyone is asking about it. An AFC head coach even asked NESN.com where Brady was going and simply hoped he’d stay out of his division.
Expect Brady’s decision to be the domino that triggers the rest of the quarterback market. We’re hearing Brady will have a strong market among quarterback-needy teams who must have backup plans in place if the six-time Super Bowl champion elects to go elsewhere.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers should all be considered candidates for Brady’s services.
— We still think the most likely outcome is Brady will return to New England. If he doesn’t, the Patriots like what they have in Jarrett Stidham. Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton and Teddy Bridgewater would be interesting quarterbacks for the Patriots to pursue if Brady doesn’t re-sign.
— It’s fun to find out which prospects the Patriots have met with at the combine, but ultimately, it means little. Some prospects that caught our eye this week from a Patriots angle include Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet, Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, tight end Hunter Bryant, quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. and tight end Adam Trautman.
— Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon signed with a new agency. He plans to play in 2020 and beyond.
— The Patriots must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents by March 18 at 4 p.m. There’s still no word on how they’ll tender defensive tackle Adam Butler and guard Jermaine Eluemunor. Our guess: second-round tender for Butler and original-round tender for Eluemunor.
— Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu reportedly needs surgery to repair a high-ankle sprain. That increases the likelihood he’ll be with the team in 2020.
— We heard good things about Patriots fourth-round pick Hjalte Froholdt, who’s fully recovered from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss his rookie season on injured reserve. He’ll be in the mix to replace Thuney if the Patriots left guard indeed leaves in free agency.
The NFL Scouting Combine continues through Sunday. Defenders will work out this weekend.