By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The story surrounding the impending free agency of Tom Brady has largely involved the Patriots being unwilling or at least uneager to extend an offer to keep the quarterback in New England. It’s been a tale of Brady essentially being left in the dark with regard to the team’s interest in him, as the clock ticks closer and closer to free agency on March 18.

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A new report, though, indicates that that story might not be entirely accurate.

Field Yates of ESPN shared some information via Twitter on Sunday, information which suggests that the Patriots may have been willing to extend Brady last summer. It was Brady who didn’t want to extend his contract beyond 2019, according to the report.

Here’s everything Yates had to say on the matter:

As we approach free agency, some notes (in a thread) to revisit as Tom Brady’s decision on his next step draws closer. During last training camp, Brady and the Patriots discussed a new deal, including a multi-year extension. Brady’s preference was to not add any years to his deal and include a no-tag provision in his deal to ensure him the right to test the market if he desired. Early in camp, the Patriots gave Brady his request for total freedom after 2019. Brady now has that opportunity to be a free agent.

Many have wondered when the Patriots will make their offer to retain Brady, something that they did in August already. In essence, the next step is Brady conveying what he wants in a new deal from the Patriots, not the other way around, as the team has previously presented him an offer, but Brady wanted to test the market, which [he] has now has the chance to do. The chance for Brady to return to New England is of course possible, but an important step in that process is an understanding for the team of what Brady is seeking in a new deal.


For those who have been following every step of the Brady saga this offseason, parts of that report surely stick out.

For one: “Many have wondered when the Patriots will make their offer to retain Brady, something that they did in August already.” That line seemingly seeks to dispel the notion that the Patriots have not communicated with Brady in terms of what they’d be willing to pay him for 2020. It suggests that the Patriots made that exact offer last summer, but Brady was not interested in it.

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The natural follow-up to that line was this: “The next step is Brady conveying what he wants in a new deal from the Patriots, not the other way around.” We can naturally surmise that this information came more from the Patriots side of the table than it did Brady’s side. And so, a line like that one makes it quite clear that instead of Brady helplessly waiting around for some business communication from the Patriots, the team believes the roles are flipped.

And the final line of the report summed it all up: “An important step in that process is an understanding for the team of what Brady is seeking in a new deal.

Obviously at this point of the soap opera known as the 2020 Offseason Of Brady, almost every angle of the story has been reported. But this is certainly a new one. The majority of the reporting has painted Bill Belichick as as the cold, emotionless businessman who’s been unwilling to show his hand. Simultaneously, the reporting has painted Brady as somewhat of a helpless fawn, wandering alone in the woods while waiting to be granted an offer to save him from the unknowns and uncertainties of free agency.

The new reporting suggests that that’s not at all the case, that the Patriots wanted or tried last summer to extend Brady beyond 2019, and that last summer’s offer basically still stands.

More simply: The new reporting indicates that the reason Brady is not under contract beyond this month with the Patriots because Brady did not want to be under contract with the Patriots.

The precise truth, as usual, tends to lie somewhere in the middle. But with this report, and with the not-so-great phone call, mixed messages on whether the Patriots even want Brady, and everything else that’s been reported in the past two months, it seems quite clear that a philosophical gap exists between the Patriots and Brady.

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You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.