Is a Reggie White-style free agency tour coming for Tom Brady?

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In 1993, the first year of close-to-real NFL free agency, Reggie White embarked on an extended tour that ended in God (and/or an offer of the most negotiable notes bearing the phrase “In God We Trust”) telling him to sign with the Packers. As Peter King and I pondered the possibilities for Tom Brady in 2020 during Tuesday’s PFT Live, a thought arose: Will Brady want to do the same thing?

In the 27 years since Reggie White milked the free agency experience for all it was worth, only one other player left the football-following world nearly as tantalized: Peyton Manning, in 2012. That year, teams lined up out the door for a chance to sign a guy who’d had four neck surgeries and whose nerves in his triceps may or may not have been firing the way they needed to.

Enter Tom Brady, who’s on the brink of his first-ever free agency and may indeed be preparing to test the waters. But it’s one thing to explore the landscape via the discreet we-never-had-this-call phone calls of the illegal tampering period (i.e., currently). It’s quite another to not do a wink-nod deal before the start of the legal tampering period, to not do a tentative deal during the legal tampering period, and to embark after March 18 on a tour that will take him to multiple cities as he forces teams to put their Plan Bs on hold while he looks for his own Plan A destination.

With so many available veteran quarterbacks in the coming free-agency cycle, Brady could logjam the entire process if he decides that he’s going to take his wife and one or more kids to L.A., Nashville, Miami, Dallas (I root for chaos), New York (if that’s what this means), Indianapolis, Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Charlotte, Tampa Bay, and/or San Francisco (again, chaos) for face-to-face meetings aimed at bigger-than-money questions like offensive philosophy, personnel, and overall feel and fit.

At a time when the NFL’s offseason structure is set up for free agency to move quickly, Brady could be in position to bend time in his direction, allowing him to make the most informed decision possible and avoiding the common problem (as the Texans learned with Brock Osweiler four years ago) of hiring a guy the head coach has never even met.

It would be easy for Brady to justify a slow, methodical process. He has one shot at free agency, and he wants to be certain he’ll have no regrets. If, along the way, he ends up dominating the NFL news cycle and paralyzing free agency, well, there’s nothing he can really do about that.

Ultimately, whether Brady can pull something like this off hinges on whether teams will let him. Every year, contract negotiators make it known to agents at the outset of the legal tampering period that, if an offer isn’t immediately accepted, the team will move on to the next guy on the list. The question as to Brady becomes whether teams will be willing to wait for Brady to make a decision before moving on to someone who will happily agree to terms. If they’ll be willing to wait, Brady could turn the first week or so of free agency into TB12-Watch.

24 responses to “Is a Reggie White-style free agency tour coming for Tom Brady?

  1. He’s not leaving. At the end of the day there’s far more downside than upside. The Pats have some serious offensive issues and this is the reason why he’s entertaining it. He doesn’t want to spend his final 2 years getting sacked all the time and throwing to a bunch of mostly unproven receivers aside from Edelman.
    Will Kraft agree to spend some money and upgrade the line and receiver group? TE, RT or guard, and deep threat WR are obvious needs but are they even available?
    If Brady goes anywhere it’s the Titans. Otherwise he stays.

  2. It’s gonna be epic. The Pats won’t wait for him. The learned that lesson with Gronk. Pats can’t come close to paying what other people will pay. FB people, as opposed to others, know Brady is far from done, and Brady’s on a marketing tour to play at least a couple more yrs. IMO, Brady has already made up his mind he’s leaving NE. Kraft doesn’t like it, But I think Belichick is ok with it.

  3. Will going somewhere where there is no one anywhere close to as accomplished as Brady be a problem for him? If so, that will be any issue anywhere outside of New England.

    Tampa Bay is interesting. They are not going to win anything if they re-sign Winston, even though they have some excellent offensive skill position players. Grab Brady for his last two seasons and maybe they can make some playoff noise.

  4. Brady is staying – he did well with a banged-up carousel offense & line. Who available is a better bet for 2020? – Stidham not yet, nor Rivers or any FA, nor draftee the Pats could get.

  5. There’s a big difference because of position. You can just plug and play a guy like Reggie White on any team and it works. Brady, because he’s a slow pocket passer, needs a team with a really good O-line and proper weapons. His choices for a successful opportunity is much smaller.

  6. IF and it’s a big IF that Brady does the Reggie White tour, keep an eye out for free agent slot wr and Brady buddy Danny Amendola. In this scenario we may get an early indicator via an Amendola signing of where Brady is going.

  7. Tom Brady will ask for 2 years, $70M, fully guaranteed and no team will meet his price.

    We’ll see if he accepts less.

  8. He and Don Yee are finding out everything Brady needs to know right now. He’s either going to sign an extension with the Patriots before the legal tampering period begins or, at worst, on the second day of the legal tampering period. That saves the Patriots several million dollars in dead cap money. Loyalty is a big deal for Brady and he’s not going to hurt the Patriots unnecessarily.

    He’s not going to focus on making huge dollars. He’s going to want reassurance about the o-line and receiver corps. Kraft wants him back, Belichick wants him back (sure, for only one or two years, but whatever); it’s going to happen. There’s at least one fatal flaw to every other option floated.

  9. I think Indy should offer Brady a 3 year, $105 million deal.
    Just as Tom’s getting ready to sign the contract, the GM slaps the pen out of his hand.

  10. “Retire already.”

    Lolz. Brady was 7th in the league in passing last year with the worst Oline he’s ever had and a pretty crappy set of receivers and TEs other than Edelman. Why should he retire? He’s still playing at a higher level than 25 other QBs, and all of the 6 above him had better Olines and skill position players

  11. I could see Chicago backing up a dump truck for him. Sign him for two years draft a QB next year and sir him behind Brady for a year. Hey, crazier things have happened.

  12. Brady was #1 in tight window passing accuracy last year and was not exactly helped by the Pats being among leaders in drops and having his two most talented WRs play only 7 games combined last year. With his still remaining ability and his box office draw, lots of teams will still be interested.

  13. He could definitely get some of that Bill Vinovich under the table super bowl type dollar amount.

  14. If God is sending any messages to Tom Brady it’s to stop cheating for once and try to win fair and square.

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