The Patroits have released the following statement regarding the ESPN article.
Joint statement from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady: pic.twitter.com/i555gWZIi6
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 5, 2018
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Wickersham writes that the Patriots and Brady negotiated his most recent two-year contract so that 2018 was going to be a key year for the team, as it would allow them to transition to Jimmy Garoppolo if they felt that was the best move at the time.
Wickersham says that Belichick’s “negativity and cynicism have gotten old” and Brady feels he has “accomplished enough that he shouldn’t have to endure so much grief.”
Brady is reportedly “famously unhelpful toward his backups — or, at least, a threat like Garoppolo,” writes Wickersham. Brady and Garoppolo were friendly much like other quarterback duos of the past including Joe Montana/Steve Young and Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers. However, Brady did not see it as his role to advise Garoppolo, given that no one helped him get prepared to take over several years ago.
After Brady was suspended at the start of the 2017 season, Wickersham says that Belichick began to see Garoppolo as the final piece of his legacy, to walk away in a few years with the Patriots secure at quarterback.
This past October, Brady reportedly met with Kraft to discuss playing longer and later met with Belichick. According to Wickersham, Belichick was skeptical of a long-term contract extension, but he was willing to start Brady as long as he was the best quarterback.
As for Garoppolo, Belichick reportedly did not want to trade Garoppolo ahead of last year’s deadline and had repeatedly offered Garoppolo four-year contract extensions, in the $17 million to $18 million range annually that would go higher if and when he succeeded Brady.
Garoppolo and his agent, Don Yee, who happens to also be the agent for Brady, rejected the offers.
A few weeks before the trade deadline, Belichick met with Kraft to discuss the quarterback situation and the meeting reportedly ended with a mandate that they were going to trade Garoppolo and begin the process of finding the best quarterback in the draft and develop him.
Wickersham says that Belichick was “furious and demoralized.”
From there, Belichick texted 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and asked him to call and Belichick offered the quarterback for a second-rounder.
Patriots’ staffers were reportedly “stunned and confused” that New England traded Garoppolo away for just a second-round pick. It was clear that Brady was the winner of this trade.
Wickersham says that those he interviewed for the article “describe a lingering sadness around the team, as if coaches and staff know that the end might be near.”
It’s possible that coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia could both take head coaching jobs this offseason and other assistants may leave for different opportunities.
Belichick is reportedly preparing assistant coaches for job interviews elsewhere, which happens to be something he did not do in the past.
Belichick wanted to walk away from the team by setting the Patriots up at quarterback, having his son Brian and Steve, to be established in their football careers, and to ensure that winning would continue without him, according to Wickersham.
Several coaches and staffers remarked to one another that the final regular season game against the Jets felt as if it could be Belichick’s last, writes Wickersham.
There are a lot of topics discussed in the article including the impact that Brady’s relations ship with trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero has had on the organization, so I recommend heading over to ESPN and reading the piece.
You can expect to hear more about the Brady/Belichick/Kraft relationship and the future of the Patriots in the coming weeks.