By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Seemingly the entire country is shutting down for the next several weeks. The NFL is plowing ahead as if it's nothing has changed.
You almost have to respect it. (Even if you don't. The NFL demands respect.)
And while that's mostly an odd course of action for the multi-billion-dollar business, it's not altogether surprising. And it does have one major benefit: Tom Brady Watch 2020 will almost certainly be coming to an end this week. It could end Monday, for all intents and purposes.
However, it might not end the way Brady wants. After two months filled with Photoshops of Brady sporting Raiders, Chargers, Titans and 49ers uniforms, his list of actual suitors is apparently quite low.
Now, consider that the source ... is Chris Simms. I know, I know, I KNOW! His nonsensical statements about Brady in the past may have forever stained his legitimacy when discussing Brady. Nevertheless, he said he talked to folks around the NFL, and this is what he gathered:
I think it is down to this. From everything I've heard, it's down to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots. And I don't think that the New England Patriots are going to be willing to give Tom Brady $30 million a year type of money. As we know, Bill Belichick, he drives a hard bargain, he treats it like a business, no matter who it is -- even if it's the GOAT. He's not going to just give him free money.
Simms guessed that the Bucs would be willing to pay Brady in the $30 million range, while the Patriots obviously would not. Simms then reiterated:
It's Tampa Bay or New England for Tom Brady.
(You can watch the whole report here, if you can stomach it.)
In the midst of that report, Simms noted that the 49ers are out on Brady. The Titans obviously re-upped with Ryan Tannehill on Sunday. That certainly cuts a hole into Brady's potential pool of suitors.
Elsewhere in the land of Brady reporting, NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran wrote, "By the end of the week, there's a good chance Tom Brady won't be on the Patriots anymore."
Curran added that returning to the Patriots does not appear to be Brady's preference, and he also noted that the market for Brady seems to be a bit thin -- while also allowing for the possibility that some teams have remained in the Brady hunt without drawing any headlines.
Curran also reported this:
Rather than being melancholy about the prospective end of his time in New England, Brady's at peace and looking forward to the possibilities in front of him.
So, taken together, it doesn't sound great if you were hoping for Brady to continue his career in New England. At the same time, if the only other option is Tampa Bay ... then it actually does become difficult to envision Brady choosing to make a change solely for change's sake. (And money's sake, technically speaking.)
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio speculated that some teams lurking in the shadows might be the Dolphins, Colts, Chargers, Cowboys or Panthers. Albert Breer of The MMQB said " the Chargers and Bucs are still planning hard runs at him, with the Raiders lurking." One supposes we must all be prepared for that "mystery team" to emerge.
The best part of the whole ordeal is that by Monday afternoon, word will start to get out about which teams are offering what, and we'll finally start to get some real answers instead of vague leaks and ambiguous statements. We've waited this long, so to see the finish line is about the only positive to take away from this saga.
And, with that finish line in sight, the final round of reporting seems to indicate a not-so-great picture for anyone wanting to see Brady play his entire career in New England.
UPDATE, 12 p.m. ET: With the legal tampering window officially open, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says the Bucs and Chargers will make calls to Brady.
UPDATE, 2:45 p.m. ET: The Bucs are pretty serious about signing Tom Brady, according to Mike Giardi of NFL Network.
We'll find out soon if Tom feels the same way.
UPDATE, Tuesday: Tom Brady is leaving the Patriots.
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