In deciding not to try to further delay or avoid his suspension through the legal process, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady opted for certainty regarding the four games he’ll miss.
And now there’s uncertainty regarding the team’s training camp and the preseason.
With Brady banished from the facility following the fourth preseason game and Jimmy Garoppolo taking over for the first four regular-season games, how will the Patriots both get Garoppolo ready for the first 25 percent of the season and Brady ready for the last 75 percent of it? Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com suggests that Brady will still get the first-team practice reps early in camp, with the focus shifting to Garoppolo as Week One approaches.
Getting Brady ready for his return takes on even greater importance because, while suspended, he’ll have no chance to do anything with the team. And so while it’s easy to analogize his four-week absence to an injury, an injured player is still available for meetings and practices before he’s cleared to play. Brady will be ripped away from the team for a month and then re-inserted on the fly.
Which raises a question that will be particularly relevant if the Patriots thrive on offense during the first four weeks of the season: Would it be better to use Garoppolo for what would be his fifth straight game or Brady for his first?
With the rebuilding Browns on the docket for Week Five, it makes plenty of sense to use Brady right away. Given Brady’s career accomplishments and abilities, it arguably will make sense to use Brady regardless of the opponent. But the situation is sufficiently unique to warrant consideration of all permutations.
Considering all permutations becomes even more warranted with someone like Bill Belichick running the show. He’ll always do what’s best for the team, and this is the first time during the mutual tenure of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady where the coach and the quarterback may not be on the same page, either as it relates to how much of the work he’ll get before he leaves and how much of it he’ll get immediately upon his return.
Ultimately, the manner in which Belichick handles Brady could be a preview of how Brady will be handled if/when Father Time commences the process of catching the very-soon-to-be-39-year-old Brady and building a slight lead.