INDIANAPOLIS — The New England Patriots aren’t in a rush to get going on free agency.
And that’s not unusual for the Patriots, who sometimes wait to reach out to their own free agents until the start of the league year. But the Patriots are almost forced to take a wait-and-see approach with their free agents — many of which are pivotal players — this year due to multiple factors, many of which involve free-agent quarterback Tom Brady.
The Patriots have somewhere between $29 million and $42 million in cap space, depending on which source you trust most. Brady figures to eat up at least $25 million of that — if he re-signs — depending on when a deal is struck and the length of the contract.
And the amount of cap space Brady will eat up is dependent upon when and if the NFL Players Association and owners can agree to a new collective bargaining agreement by March 18, the start of the new league year. If an agreement is made, then it will be easier to sign Brady to a lower 2020 cap hit. And that, in turn, will make it easier for the Patriots to re-sign some of their own free agents.
But until they know all of that then it’s tough to do anything decisive. Say the two sides can’t agree and a new CBA isn’t forged before March 18. And then say Brady signs after March 18 at 4 p.m., so his $13.5 million cap hit accelerates onto the 2020 books. And then say Brady signs a one-year, $25 million deal with the Patriots. Then the Patriots suddenly have about $4 million in cap room to play around with until they make other cuts or trades.
If the Patriots strike a deal with one of their other free agents before Brady re-signs, then they might have to make additional moves just to find cap room to lock up Brady.
So, everything is in flux, leaving people to wonder what the Patriots are doing with three weeks until free agency begins.
And despite some more decisive reports, no one truly knows what Brady is doing next season because even the quarterback himself isn’t sure. So, things will stay in flux with the Patriots until certain important dominos fall to set off a chain reaction.