Is Tom Brady Playing Chicken With the New England Patriots?

The NFL’s 100th season continues. For the teams watching these playoff games at home, the offseason wheeling and dealing has begun. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is increasingly the focus of NFL-related rumors.

The Hall of Fame shoo-in is tripping all sorts of alarms, and most point in exactly one direction. He seems unlikely to put on the Patriots uniform again. Let’s read between the lines of Brady’s recent actions to see if it’s possible this is actually a high-stakes game of chicken.

The many signals Tom Brady sent to the Patriots’ front office

The rumors point to Brady leaving the team. But is this truly the case? Or is Brady simply signaling to the top brass in New England that he’s serious about getting paid for his final years?

First, there are the long-standing rumors that Brady and his family are moving out of their Brookline, Massachusetts home. One of these rumors — Brady buying a house in Connecticut — was quickly debunked. But, as Sports Illustrated points out, this debunking came with a caveat. Insiders say Brady and his wife Gisele B√ľndchen are exploring their options to move.

This comes on the heels of a report that Brady’s private suite in Gillette Stadium was cleared out. And this is all happening in a context where Brady and Bundchen listed their home for sale months ago.

All of this begs the question: Why wouldn’t Brady want to sunset his career with the franchise he had so much legendary success with?

Why Tom Brady wants to get paid big before he retires

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has the strongest individual case for being the best of his generation. But Tom Brady is most associated with total league dominance. This dichotomy came at a literal cost.

Brady regularly negotiated generous contracts that undervalued his actual talent. This left cap space open for the Patriots to surround him with the pieces required to win those record-breaking six Super Bowl rings.

The 42-year-old just turned in his worst season since 2013. He’s still a great QB, just not one with his best days ahead of him. And reports say he is increasingly embarrassed by how long he allowed himself to be underpaid.

Where will Tom Brady end up for the 2020-21 NFL season?

Tom Brady spent a (truncated) evening watching Connor McGregor roll over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in 40 seconds flat. This likely left Brady with some extra time to chat with fellow UFC 246 guest of honor, Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis.

The Vegas move means new season tickets need to be sold. The Raiders are also a candidate for needing a new QB in 2020. It’s not a perfect fit, because Brady is more expensive than his performance as a 43-year-old may match up with. But in terms of his value for getting butts in seats in a new city? It’s perfect.

Other candidates: basically any team with a shaky young QB. The Chicago Bears may open up breathing room for Mitchell Trubisky to develop behind surehanded Brady. The same applies to the listless Baker Mayfield, who turned in a lackluster season following high expectations.

Or, if we read between the lines with a healthy dose of speculation, it’s all really just a game of chicken. If, privately, Brady simply wants to get paid? Then this could all be his way of telling the New England front office that the bill is finally due.

Whatever happens, it should make for some captivating rumors to keep the NFL in hearts and minds well into the offseason.

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