Until practices are mandatory, the obligatory response to questions about absentee quarterback Tom Brady are to be expected from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Tuesday morning Belichick said, “I’m not going to talk about the people that aren’t here,” when asked if he’s spoken to Brady. “The guys who are here are improving, they’re working hard. Those are the guys we’re going to focus on.”
When asked if it’s a challenge not having the team’s quarterback at OTAs, Belichick replied, “All the guys that are out here working are improving, and it’s a great opportunity for them and our team to come together, and that’s what’s happening.”
Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski did not participate in voluntary workouts on Monday. Neither were expected Tuesday or until the mandatory minicamp for the Patriots from June 5-7.
Brady confirmed in late April that he intends to play the upcoming season, but has thus far skipped all voluntary activities this offseason. He has said he’s taken more time for himself and his family in the wake of a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
Brady guided the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the eighth time last season, an NFL record for any player, and he is a five-time champion. He won his third NFL Most Valuable Player award for the 2017 season after throwing for 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns.
“Football is year-round for me,” Brady said recently. “It’s a lot of thought, a lot of energy and emotion put into it, but I need to invest in them, too. My kids are 10, 8 and 5. They’re not getting younger, so I need to take time so I can be available to them, too.
“... I’ve really spent the last two or three months doing those things, and I think I’m really trying to fill my tank up so that when I do go back, I can go back and I think I’ll actually be, in my mind, a better player, a better teammate, because I’ll be really rejuvenated.”
Brady, who turns 41 on Aug. 3, is set to make $15 million in 2018, tied with Cam Newton and Philip Rivers for 19th among NFL quarterbacks. He is scheduled to make the same figure in 2019, which currently ties Alex Smith for 23rd among signal-callers. Brady will count $22 million against the Patriots’ cap in both seasons, which ranks tied for 11th in 2018 and 15th in 2019.
Gronkowski, who turned 29 this month, is expected to receive an adjusted contract for the second consecutive year. Per CBA rules, any restructure to Gronkowski’s contract involving incentives must take place at least 12 months after the previous one. The tight end signed an incentive-laden restructure on May 24 of last year.
—Field Level Media