Could one simple gesture keep Tom Brady with the New England Patriots?
While Brady’s free agency undoubtedly is complicated, Stephen A. Smith explained Monday on ESPN’s “First Take” that a direct message of affirmation from Bill Belichick could go a long way toward bridging whatever gap exists between the sides.
Basically, according to Smith’s sources, Brady wants to feel wanted.
“The friction that exists between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is real,” Smith said. “And it’s not real from the perspective of: ‘We dislike each other, whatever the case may be.’ Bill Belichick is perceived throughout NFL circles as being somebody with a very, very high IQ and a very, very low EQ. He’s not the most personable dude in the world. He’s not the kind of guy that can go to you and is like, ‘I love you. I value you. I appreciate you. Please stay. We love you. We want you to be here.’ That ain’t Bill Belichick. And because he severely lacks those interpersonal skills to ingratiate himself with another human being, even if it’s a quarterback that’s taken them to nine Super Bowls and won six Super Bowl titles for him — because he can’t do that, it’s virtually impossible for Mr. (Robert) Kraft or anybody else to step in without Bill Belichick doing it.
“The thing about Tom Brady is that for really the first time in his career, he’s pretty much demanding that, from what I’m being told. He’s demanding that, ‘Wait a minute. Enough with all of this. This man needs to come here and convince me that he wants me to be here. I don’t need to be here anymore if he doesn’t want me here.’ And that is what Tom Brady is looking for from Bill Belichick. That is what the Patriots are looking for from Bill Belichick.
“So it comes down to, from what I’m told: Bill Belichick going to Tom Brady and saying, ‘I really want you to stay.’ That’s all it would take. But it’s a very, very, very big ask for somebody whose interpersonal skills are as challenged as Bill Belichick’s.”
Brady has spent his entire 20-year career with the Patriots since being selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He has shown amazing loyalty to the organization over the past two decades, most notably with regards to his contract, consistently accepting below market value to ensure the rest of New England’s roster remains well-stocked.
But now, Brady is about to become a free agent for the first time, and there’s a whole different feel to the situation. For once, Belichick might need to go outside his own comfort zone to keep Brady in a Patriots uniform. And perhaps that’ll be too much for The Hoodie to stomach, despite all Brady has accomplished in New England.
“What I’m being told is that essentially this is a deal that could easily be closed by Mr. Kraft if indeed Belichick makes it clear he wants (Brady) to stay,” Smith said. “The one thing that Tom Brady is insistent upon, that he needs, is that Bill Belichick wants him to stay, because this is the guy he has to work with every day, this is the man that he has to answer to.”
Maybe it’s not quite that simple. But if, in fact, Brady would like for Belichick to acknowledge his contributions and importance to the Patriots after helping the franchise achieve unprecedented success, then that sure seems like a reasonable request.
Brady officially can become a free agent when the new league year opens March 18, with the legal tampering period beginning two days prior.