Talk about a Bomb Cyclone.
ESPN published a bombshell story Friday exploring the power struggle brewing in Foxborough among Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft.
The story focuses on how the rift among the trio — which appeared to reach new heights following the Jimmy Garoppolo trade — has become so severe that some Patriots personnel believe this may be the final year all three remain in New England.
According to ESPN, as the trade deadline neared, Brady met with both Kraft and Belichick several times in October to discuss his desire to play longer. Belichick, however, was reportedly skeptical of giving a 40-year-old quarterback a long-term contract extension.
Brady has frequently aired his desire to play until he’s 45 and finish his career as a Patriot. The fact that Brady didn’t appear ready to retire any time soon led to the Patriots having to make a decision on Garoppolo’s future with the team, as the backup quarterback was set to be a free agent after the season. The meeting between Brady and Belichick ended in a “little blowup,” according to ESPN.
The Patriots ultimately traded Garoppolo to the 49ers for only a second-round pick, leading many outside the organization to initially question Belichick’s decision-making.
According to ESPN, the Patriots repeatedly offered Garoppolo — who ironically shares the same agent as Brady — four-year contract extensions in the $17-18 million range annually that would go higher if and when he succeeded Brady. Garoppolo, however, rejected the offers, leading to his eventual trade to San Francisco.
Belichick, however, did not want to deal Garoppolo, but was forced to do so after a lengthy meeting with Kraft two weeks before the Nov. 1 trade deadline, according to ESPN. While ESPN does not report whether or not Brady explicitly demanded Garoppolo be traded during his numerous meetings with Kraft, he appeared to be “liberated” after he found out about the trade. Several players and staffers told ESPN Brady seemed “excited, hollering and cajoling.”
Kraft also appeared to be in good spirits after the trade, hugging Brady when he saw him in full view of teammates later that week, according to ESPN.
Belichick has historically had no trouble moving on from older veterans, having previously traded Drew Bledsoe and Richard Seymour and releasing the likes of Ty Law and Vince Wilfork. Belichick has also long been fond of Garoppolo leading some to speculate he may prefer to deal Brady and stick with Garoppolo for the long term.
A Patriots staffer told ESPN if this was a battle between Brady and Belichick, it was clear who the victor was.
“(Brady) won,” the staffer told ESPN.
Whether or not Brady explicitly pushed for the team to trade Garoppolo, there appears to be a growing sense of animosity between the Patriots star quarterback and Belichick stemming all the way from September when Belichick reportedly stripped Brady’s trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero of his special team privileges, banning him from boarding Patriots jets, standing on the sideline and treating any other Patriot other than Brady.
The Brady-Belichick-Kraft relationship now seems to be “unstable,” according to ESPN. The three were supposed to meet in December to reconcile and clear the air, but never did, ESPN reports. According to ESPN, there is “a lingering sadness in the building, as if coaches and staff know that the end may be near.”
If the trio behind the Patriots dynasty does break up, Belichick would most likely be the odd man out as Kraft won’t sell the team any time soon and it appears that Brady plans to play for at least a few more seasons. The 65-year-old coach could elect to retire or potentially continue coaching and accept a job elsewhere.
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