How much does Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s relationship play a role in the quarterback’s long-awaited free agency decision?

More than you might think — at least according to one sports media host.

Brady will hit the open market for the first time in his NFL career on Wednesday. While there are three teams rumored to have interest in the quarterback, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers listed as the favorites after making their intentions “loud and clear,” there may be a bigger picture with Brady.

And it’s about why he could leave New England.

As Shannon Sharpe explained Monday on “Undisputed,” the reasoning comes down to the fundamentals of relationships and competition.

“Tom is running out of options that he can go that give him a legitimate opportunity,” Sharpe said. “Because as I’ve said before: This is a race between a 68-year-old at the start of the season coach Belichick and a 43-year-old Tom Brady at the start of the season. Who can get to the Lombardi finish line first?

“Look, relationships end all the time,” Sharpe continued. “We don’t normally see relationships like this in the NFL where we see a 20-year marriage. But if you look at it in terms of a relationship, people have been together for 20 years, 25, 30 years, and all of a sudden, they grow apart. Different things interest them all of a sudden. …”

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Now, it’d be a stretch to say Belichick and Brady aren’t still after the same goal. There’s no doubt they both want to win another Super Bowl. But it’s a matter of how they’d like to do it that could differ.

“I think both guys have earned the opportunity — Coach Belichick to try to win a Super Bowl without Tom, Tom earned the right to try to win a Super Bowl without Coach Belichick, because this is what this is about,” Sharpe continued. “That is what it’s always been. After a certain point, who deserves the most credit?”

Brady and Belichick don’t know what the experience would be like without each other. Of course, that creates the natural curiosity to wonder what they could accomplish apart.

There’s no question what they can (and have) accomplished together, though. The Brady-Belichick duo has led the franchise to six Super Bowls. Though for now, time will tell if they’ll team up for a shot at No. 7.

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