Barring any changes, the New England Patriots have five days to work out a new contract with Tom Brady before other teams can pursue him in unrestricted free agency.
The two sides apparently have some work to do.
During Thursday's edition of WEEI's "Dale & Keefe" radio show, host Dale Arnold reported what he heard about head coach Bill Belichick's recent phone conversation with Brady, which our Tom E. Curran reported "wasn't particularly productive."
"What I was told happened," Arnold said, via WEEI.com, "was the Patriots told Tom Brady that all they can do is a one-year deal at less money than he made last year because of the $13.5 million that gets tacked onto the salary cap.
"Basically, (Belichick said), 'What we’re going to be able to do here, Tom, is a one-year deal, but it’s not going to be for as much money as you got last year."
According to Arnold, the Patriots currently aren't prepared to offer Brady more than the $23 million he made in 2020, in part due to Brady's $13.5 cap hit, which the Patriots would be on the hook for if he leaves in free agency. (If Brady stays, New England can make two $6.75 million payments in 2020 and 2021).
Considering Brady already was unhappy with his latest contract -- he was hoping for a two-year, $50 million deal last summer, Curran reported recently -- it seems unlikely the 42-year-old QB would go for Belichick's offer.
So, does that mean Brady will bolt for greener pastures? Not quite. Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal reported Friday that Brady and Belichick are expected to speak again, and that the lack of a new NFL collective bargaining agreement is still a "real" issue that could impact their next discussion.
Belichick's offer could be just the beginning of negotiations, Bedard writes, and it's possible the head coach and quarterback find middle ground.
Then again, it's also possible Belichick low-balled the six-time Super Bowl champion, who reportedly has suitors willing to pay him up to $30 million per year in free agency.
Will Brady take one more hometown discount to run it back in New England? We may start finding out Monday, when the NFL's legal tampering window is set to open.