Tom Brady steals the Patriots’ thunder plus 13 perfect matches for NFL free agency – CBS Sports

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When I started writing the newsletter today, it looked like the biggest news of the day was going to be Cam Newton re-signing with the Patriots, but then that got pushed to the back burner because the Tom Brady extension happened. 

I have no idea if he did it on purpose, but I’m starting to think that Brady’s only goal in life is to make the Patriots regret their decision to let him go. 

“Oh, you think I’m washed up, well then I’ll just go win a Super Bowl somewhere else.” Check. 
“Oh, you re-signed Cam, that’s cute. I just signed an extension while eating avocado ice cream.” Check. 

The best part of all this is that the Buccaneers and Patriots will be playing each other during the 2021 season. Although we don’t know the date of the game, we do know that it will be played in New England. I will be circling that game on my calendar as soon as it is announced, although that means I’ll have to buy a calendar first since I don’t actually own one. If you’d like to chip in for my calendar, please let me know and I’ll start a GoFundMe. 

Alright, let’s get to the rundown where we’ll be covering Brady and Cam plus plenty more. As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Tell everyone you know to sign up and then ask them to tell everyone they know.

1. Today’s show: Friday mailbag

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During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up every week by adding a listener mailbag. Every Friday, Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I sift through the mail and then we pick five or six questions to answer on the podcast. If you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review. 

For today’s mailbag, the questions were all over the place. Here’s a small sample: 

  • Is Alex Smith the most successful NFL player in terms of money [but no actual success]? He got the old rookie deal — every penny — and he signed an extension with the Chiefs and Washington. If your goal was to just make money and not necessarily be a champion in the NFL, it seems like Alex Smith is the blueprint. This was easily my favorite question from today’s mailbag and I have no idea why. Although Smith has made plenty of money in his career — an estimated $189 million — I think the title for the most financially successful player who has never actually won anything goes to Matthew Stafford. Over the course of his career, Stafford has pulled in $226 million — the ninth-highest total in NFL history — and he’s done that without winning a SINGLE playoff game. He’s the original Andy Dalton. We also gave honorable mentions to Sam Bradford ($130 million in career earnings with no playoff wins) and Chase Daniel, who has made $37 million despite only starting in five games in his career. 
  • What experiences have you guys had where your team is in rough shape and what do you do to stay positive during that time? First, let me just say that it’s fitting that Matthew Stafford was my answer to the last question, because this question came from a Lions fan. As the resident Bengals homer on the podcast, no one knows more about a team being in “rough shape” than me. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since January 1991, which means I’ve spent the past 30 years trying to stay positive and let me just say, it’s not easy. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible. The only way to stay positive is to lie to yourself every day, so that’s what I do. Today I’m convincing myself that the Bengals can win Super Bowl LVI. 

To hear the rest of the mailbag questions from today’s episode and to subscribe to the podcast, be sure to click here

2. Tom Brady gets an extension

If the 31 other NFL teams were hoping that Tom Brady would hang up his cleats sometime soon, I have some bad news for them: It doesn’t sound like Tom Brady is going to be retiring anytime soon. As a matter of fact, I’m starting to think he might not ever retire. 

Brady and the Buccaneers have agreed to terms on a contract extension and here are a few nuggets: 

  • Details on Brady’s deal. The quarterback has agreed to a four-year extension, but with one huge catch: the final three years of the deal are voidable, which means this is actually a one-year extension. Basically, this now means that Brady is under contract with the Buccaneers through the 2022 season. Brady has long said that he wants to play until he’s at least 45 so it seems kind of fitting that he’ll be 45 when the 2022 season kicks off. 
  • Why this is good for the Buccaneers. If you’re wondering why Brady would get a deal that includes voidable years, the contract is set up that way so that his salary cap hit can be spread out. If Brady’s first contract with Tampa Bay hadn’t been re-done, he would have counted $28.375 million against the cap this year. Thanks to the new deal, the Buccaneers will be saving $19 million in 2021 cap space. If you want a full explanation of how the Buccaneers were able to save that kind of money without Brady taking a pay cut, be sure to click here

Brady clearly wants to win another Super Bowl and thanks to this new deal, the Buccaneers are in a better position to do that. With the extra cap space, the Buccaneers can now work on re-signing several players who are scheduled to hit free agency including Shaq Barrett, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and Antonio Brown

Brady has spent the better part of his career making below-market money so that his team can build around him and I’m not saying every quarterback should take below-market money, but I am saying that Brady has seven Super Bowl wins.  

3. Cam Newton running it back with the Patriots

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Last offseason, it was nearly July before Cam Newton ended up signing a contract with the Patriots. This year, the two sides got things done in a more timely manner with Newton agreeing to a one-year deal worth up to $14 million before the start of free agency. 

I actually like this deal on both ends for multiple reasons and here’s why:

  • The Patriots might still add another QB. According to ESPN.com, the Patriots will still be in the market for a quarterback this offseason, but they don’t have to add one and that’s exactly where you want to be if you’re New England. If a quarterback falls in your lap during free agency or during the draft or if the Texans decide to send you Deshaun Watson, then you take it. But if none of those happen, then you can move forward with Newton as your starting quarterback for 2021. 
  • Cam will likely be better this year. Look, was Cam the best QB in the NFL last season? No and he probably wasn’t even in the top 15. However, he did help the Patriots stay competitive even though he had no offensive talent around him and even though he had to learn the offense on the fly (due to COVID-19, Cam didn’t really get to learn the offense during the offseason). Despite the fact that his top two receivers were undrafted free agents (Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd) and his top running back was a fourth-round pick (Damien Harris), Newton still led the Patriots to a 7-9 record and four of those nine losses were by one score. Basically, I view Cam as a safety net who the Patriots can comfortably start if they can’t find someone better this offseason. 

Also, let’s not forget, the Patriots have more salary cap space than nearly every other team in the NFL right now, which means they should be able to add a few weapons to help Newton this offseason. 

4. Texans coach offers mixed messages on Deshaun Watson’s future 

I didn’t think it was possible to add any more drama to the Deshaun Watson situation, but I think David Culley might have managed to do that anyway this week. The new Texans coach did two interviews over the past 48 hours and in those interviews, he had two very different takes about whether the Texans would be keeping Watson. 

Interview One: The first interview came on the Huddle and Flow podcast with Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche. During that interview, Culley was asked about Watson’s future and he sounded like a coach who had finally come to the realization that he was about to lose his star player. 

“He is our starting quarterback right now. He is our starting quarterback,” Culley said. “Things happen between now and then. We’ll see what happens. He’s our starting quarterback — that’s right, right now. And hopefully in the future.”

He’s our quarterback “right now” and “things happen between now and then” doesn’t make it sound like he’s too optimistic about keeping Watson. On the other hand, let’s check out the second interview. 

Interview Two: The second interview was a press conference with the media on Thursday and I’m guessing someone in the Texans organization had a chat with Culley about how he should answer questions pertaining to Watson, because during this interview, Culley sounded 100% sure that Watson would be sticking around. 

“There is no contingency plan. (Deshaun Watson) is a Houston Texan, and that’s how we’re moving forward with it. We’re committed to him,” Culley told the media. “I feel like with the commitment we made to him and I feel like that same commitment will be there with us moving forward. He’s ours and we’re committed to that.”

My takeaway here is that Watson is definitely getting traded and Culley basically let it slip in the first interview that the Texans are aware of that fact, even though they’ve insisted that they won’t be trading him. Culley tried to put out the fire in the second interview, but it had spread way too far by then. 

5. NFL Insider notes: 13 perfect matches for free agency

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With the start of free agency less than a week away, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora thought now would be the perfect time to play a game of matchmaker, so that’s what he did in his column for Friday. If you’ve never played NFL matchmaker, here’s how it works: La Canfora picked the 13 top free agents and matched them with a team that would be the best fit.  

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of those matches. 

  • WR Kenny Golladay to Washington. “It’s been a looong time since Dan Snyder made a true free-agent splash. His former team president, Bruce Allen, seemed all about saving money and, well let’s just say Snyder could use a distraction or two.”
  • TE Jonnu Smith to the Bills. “This team wants to win, ASAP. They are close. The QB has almost every creature comfort he could want except a move tight end who can separate and open up the field for others.”
  • DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Raiders. “GM Mike Mayock is under massive pressure to improve what has been a horrible defense. Like, across the board. All three levels. Pathetic. This seems like the kind of guy they would be drawn to.”
  • OLB Shaq Barrett stays with the Buccaneers. “I don’t think the Bucs put the tag on Chris Godwin, and not Barrett, if they don’t feel good about their ability to retain this difference-making talent. Tom Brady is redoing his deal specifically with this kind of transaction in mind.”
  • OG Joe Thuney to the Jaguars. “With Trevor Lawrence coming to town, and a decent array of wide receivers in place with a solid running back, adding the best interior offensive lineman on the market will be very appealing to their new head coach/football overlord Urban Meyer.”

If you want to check out the rest of La Canfora’s matches, be sure to click here

6. Rapid fire roundup 

There has been so much news in the NFL over the past 24 hours that we would need to cover 51 topics in today’s newsletter just to get to all of it, but since no one wants to read a 12,000-word newsletter on a Friday, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Bills re-sign Matt Milano. The linebacker has been a key part of Buffalo’s defense over the past four years, which is a big reason why the team decided to sign him to a four-year, $44 million deal and not let him test free agency
  • Texans add RB Mark Ingram and LB Christian Kirksey. Although the Texans have no idea who their quarterback is going to be this year, that hasn’t stopped them from adding free agents. Over the past 24 hours, the team signed a pair of veterans in Ingram and Kirksey, who both got one-year deals. 
  • Ravens keep Pernell McPhee. The Ravens were set to have four outside linebackers hit free agency — Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser and McPhee — but that number is now down to three thanks to McPhee, who is re-signing with the team, according to ESPN.com
  • Bears give big extension to their kicker. Before Cairo Santos arrived in 2020, the Bears kicking situation had basically been a disaster for four straight years. However, Santos fixed that last season and the Bears rewarded with him with a five-year deal worth up to $17.5 million. 
  • Falcons keep their kicker. Santos wasn’t the only kicker to get a deal this week. The Falcons also re-signed their kicker, Younghoe Koo. This move was a no-brainer for Atlanta, especially when you consider that Koo is coming off a Pro Bowl season.  
  • Saints restructure Michael Thomas‘ contract and release Malcom Brown. Yesterday, we took a deep dive into what the Saints have done this offseason to save salary cap space and because they’re STILL not under the cap, they had to make a few more adjustments on Friday. The team restructured Michael Thomas’ contract in a move that’s expected to create $8.7 million in cap space. The Saints are also expected to release Malcom Brown, which will add another $5 million in cap room. 

7. The Kicker: Belichick shaves his head for charity

This is usually the part of the offseason where Bill Belichick is asking his players to take a haircut so the Patriots can pick up some cap space, but the tides were turned this week and that’s because a Patriots player actually gave a haircut to Belichick.

First, let me just say that if I played for the Patriots, the last person who I’d want to give a haircut to is Belichick. That’s way too much pressure. However, the pressure clearly didn’t bother Brandon King, who gave his coach a nice buzz cut. Belichick doesn’t usually let his players cut his hair, but he made an exception in this case because it was for charity. 

If you want to see the video of Belichick getting his hair cut off, be sure to click here, and let me just say, that’s a daring haircut for a 68-year-old man. I stopped getting haircuts like that 10 years ago because I’ve become fully convinced that my hair won’t grow back if I do. 

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