Patriots Mailbag: Why Robert Kraft Is Key In Tom Brady Negotiations

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March 18 can’t come quickly enough.

In two weeks, we should all have a better sense of whether or not Tom Brady actually is returning to the New England Patriots. Until then, the obnoxious endless speculation will continue while Brady himself is enjoying a vacation. Must be nice.

Reports were all over the place during NFL Scouting Combine week. For the last few days, the juicy possibility that Brady could go home to the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo could return to the team that drafted him in New England has been discussed ad nauseam.

Will that actually happen? Probably not. But I guess it’s fun to talk about it.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag and start out hot.

@HenryAllain
Do you agree that the patriots should release Harry? Clearly they don?t know what to do with him and they are limiting his potential. This kid is an all star but in the patriots organization he?s going to be in the dustbin of losers.
Do I agree that the Patriots should cut a first-round pick after one year? No. No, I don’t.

@swirley0813
We?re going to need that Brady prediction, Doug. #MailDoug
I’m holding strong. I still think Tom Brady returns to the Patriots.

I still don’t totally understand why Brady would want to leave. The Patriots still give him the best chance to win, and starting over with a new team has many potential unintended consequences. Brady shouldn’t underestimate strength of division either. Winning the AFC East is a relative cakewalk compared to the competition he’d face in other divisions.

The sportsbooks agree with me. BetOnline.ag has the Patriots at -150 favorites to return to the Patriots. The next best odds have Brady landing with the Tennessee Titans at 5/1.

Things admittedly aren’t looking great right now. But if Patriots owner Robert Kraft gets Brady in a room, I don’t think the QB is getting out without signing a contract. Kraft got a deal done with Josh McDaniels after he already had agreed to become the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach. Kraft isn’t going to put in that same effort to get Brady?

@MMMX_R
Do you see cannon and gostowski getting cut for cap space and to bring in new blood?
I certainly could. The salary cap-strapped Patriots could free up nearly $8 million in cap space by cutting Marcus Cannon and Stephen Gostkowski. I actually made an argument for cutting Gostkowski, re-signing Nick Folk and drafting a kicker. The Patriots could save cap space on a kicker regardless if Folk or the rookie won the job.

Whether the Patriots would be willing to cut Cannon might depend on their feelings about 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste and whether they think they can get a starting-caliber offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Patriots will need cap space if they re-sign Brady or add another expensive quarterback. That could lead to some tough decisions like cutting Gostkowski or Cannon.

@billwalshri
Next year starting 5 O-linemen prediction?
That’s so tough. I’ll go with:

LT Isaiah Wynn
LG Hjalte Froholdt
C David Andrews
RG Shaq Mason
RT Yodny Cajuste

I don’t expect Joe Thuney or Ted Karras to re-sign in free agency. I’m hopeful Andrews can return after missing last season with blood clots in his lungs. I ultimately believe the Patriots will need to move on from Cannon for salary cap purposes.

We’ll see, though. I’m most hesitant to put Cajuste at right tackle, but he was an impressive player in college. If he’s fully healthy, then I think he’s a starting-caliber offensive lineman.

@n_briggs401
Do you think there?d ever be the consideration for NE to call it a day on Sony Michel and try and bring in a RB like Derrick Henry (LG2.0 but better) or even Joe Mixon (BB gushed over him). I know we need an offensive threat… but what if it?s not a WR?
The Patriots wouldn’t give up on Sony Michel before they start practicing this spring and summer, so I’d be shocked if they signed someone like Henry or traded for Mixon. If Michel struggles next season, however, then I could see the Patriots giving Damien Harris a crack at the starting running back job.

The Patriots liked Harris enough to spend a third-round pick on him last spring. They have to see what he can do in a meaningful game before moving on to some other option.

I also think Michel will run better next season with a real fullback back in the offense. Michel really missed James Develin after the fullback went on injured reserve with a neck injury.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@brienlp
How are you today? Any chance Jeudy drops to 23?
I’m doing pretty well!

And I have no idea. The draft isn’t for another two months. A lot can change.

@RyanVillard
Could a scenario of the Patriots keeping Brady and using the 23rd pick on a QB realistically happen?
If the Patriots re-sign Brady and then spend their first-round pick on a quarterback, then Brady would have every right to retire.

@MSGiro
Top 5 favorite punk bands? #MailDoug
Misfits
Against Me!
No Use For A Name
The Menzingers
Rancid

@JefFullerMyself
You’ve been around for some dramatic times covering Pats, Deflategate, Brady vs Bill alleged drama, Bengals filming incident and now Brady free agent drama. Which has been the most annoying/frustrating to cover? #maildoug
Nothing could ever be worse than Deflategate, but the Brady free-agent drama has been exhausting, and it’s not even close to being over.

@lil_bit_special
Hi Doug, first time, long time… Should I buy a new or used Subaru Outback? And what color is your top choice?
I recommend a Mazda CX-5. Can’t go wrong with a black car.

@TheDTSB
If Brady actually does end up in SF and Bill makes a run at Jimmy, how do you see it playing out? I?ve seen a rumor about a Brady sign and trade, but I don?t know what reason he?d do that other than as a solid to the Pats.
Sign and trades don’t really exist in the NFL, and it would make no sense for Brady to sign with the Patriots just to help them out in a trade with his future team for Jimmy Garoppolo.

The San Francisco 49ers would have to sign Brady then turn around and trade Garoppolo with little leverage.

@thisryanjackson
Do you have a favorite non-NESN reporter to work with? This is meant to cause a significant rift in the Boston media market
I can’t pick a favorite. But I get along really well with my fellow Patriots beat reporters, folks on other beats and national writers.

That’s what makes events like the NFL Scouting Combine and Super Bowl so fun. It’s like a reunion every year.

@NuJeru4Life
Do you think Bill thinks as highly of Jarrett Stidham as he did Garrapolo? And if so, doesn?t that mean they are less likely to go with Tom this go around?
I think it’s too soon for Bill to feel the same way about Stidham as he did with Garoppolo. Garoppolo was a second-round pick and in his fourth season when the Patriots traded him to the 49ers. Stidham is just a second-year fourth-round pick.

The Patriots do like Stidham, but Garoppolo is a high bar to set.

@patrickridner
Does Belichick still get the ?In Bill we trust? manta with the fans it he lets Brady walk? Will the fans turn on Belichick if he doesn?t resign Brady?
He still deserves that mantra. The Patriots won the Super Bowl a year ago.

I suspect there will Patriots fans and separate Brady fans next season if the two sides part ways. That seems to be what happened when Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts.

@StevzieMac
How long does it take to style your hair? What products do you use?
About 30 seconds.

Uppercut easy hold.

@Caleb_Crouchet
Do you need an assistant
Yes, but I can only pay you in leftover snacks from Doug’s Buds video shoots.

@offroadtjnh
When is the Brady drama over? Mach 18th? Or will there be another date? #MailDoug
I hope Brady doesn’t take his time. I’d like this thing to be over by March 18.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images

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