INDIANAPOLIS – The question seems ridiculous on the surface, but two NFL GMs were asked it anyway this week: What do you think about the idea of Tom Brady signing with the Giants?
Both of them had the same reaction: Laughter.
And yet neither of them said no.
That’s not at all a sign that Brady to the Giants is a likely scenario (It’s not). It’s more of a sign that nobody here at the NFL scouting combine seems to have any idea at all what the 42-year-old Brady is doing.
He is now 20 days away from being an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, but does he really want to play somewhere else? Is he just using his leverage to get a better deal from the Patriots? Or does he just want to see how wild the bidding for his services will get?
Brady’s agent, Don Yee, spoke to a group of reporters inside the Indiana Convention Center on Thursday, but he politely declined to answer anything about Brady’s situation. So until the white smoke puffs from the Brady mansion — wherever that may be these days — it’s all anybody’s guess.
And absolutely everybody has a guess.
“When you think of Tom, Tom’s always going to be a New England Patriot,” said Broncos GM John Elway. “He’s at that time in his life he still wants to play. It’ll be interesting from him to kind of explore and see what’s out there. I’m sure that’s exciting to him to kind of look around and see what’s available. I’m just glad that he’s thinking about playing again. He’s great for the game and he’s been great for this league.”
Brady has been great, and he apparently believes he’ll be great for the foreseeable future. And so do more than a few people around the league. There is a strong belief, from multiple NFL sources, that if Brady really does hit free agency the Las Vegas Raiders, the San Diego Chargers and the Tennessee Titans will be at the front of the line.
Notably, the coaches and GMs of those teams refused to rule out the Brady speculation this week and refused to fully commit to their current quarterbacks either.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel wouldn’t comment on any interest in his former Patriots teammate. Raiders GM Mike Mayock said “I’m very happy with Derek Carr … and if we can get better we will.” Chargers GM Tom Telesco said “It’s way too early to eliminate anything right now.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn’t fully commit to another year of Jameis Winston, either. The Cowboys’ future with Dak Prescott isn’t clear as they haggle over his next contract. And then there’s the Giants, who bizarrely won’t say whether Daniel Jones will be their opening day starter, which has led to two reports linking Brady to them.
Of course, Brady leaving New England at all is still a huge “if” — even though reports from ESPN and the Boston Herald on Thursday indicated Brady already has one foot out of the Foxboro door.
There are many people who believe, as one NFL agent said, “He just wants to be loved” and that this is all a big “ego trip” to see how much attention he can get. That’s a bit of a bitter take, though. Others say there is something more practical at work: That the Patriots don’t want to seriously talk contract with Brady (or anyone) until they see if the players accept the new collective bargaining agreement and both the rules and the size of the salary cap become clear.
Most people believe Brady’s intentions — and possibly his next destination — will become clear long before March 18 when the free agent market opens. They believe he understands that he needs to be the first number called in what could be a wild game of offseason quarterback roulette. Where Brady goes could impact what happens with free agents like Philip Rivers and Prescott, Winston, Carr and Tannehill, and maybe even Andy Dalton and Teddy Bridgewater, too.
“It’s no different than any other position, but quarterback is the premier position and you never thought you’d see (Tom) Brady and (Drew) Brees and all those guys’ names be out there,” said Bucs coach Bruce Arians. “And Drew is not really out there. So what is door No. 2? You never know.”
Until then, everyone will guess and laugh and have all sorts of fun trying to figure it out, but no one outside of Brady’s personal bunch will be able to say anything with any certainty. And that means no one can completely rule out anything — even something as seemingly ridiculous as Brady to the Giants — until Brady’s decision is finally, mercifully announced.