The New England Patriots suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night, and rumors about the status of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady have reached a fever pitch around New England — with some football experts now thinking the unthinkable. Namely, that the Patriots might actually trade Tom Brady.
Coming into 2014 with high expectations after an injury-riddled 2013 Patriots squad made it all the way to the AFC Championship game, the devastating 41-14 drubbing by the Chiefs left New England at 16th of the NFL's 32 teams in the ESPN Power Rankings, after starting the season ranked Number Four.
The loss to Kansas City was the worst Patriots defeat in more than 10 years, since opening the 2003 season losing 31-0 to the Buffalo Bills. New England recovered and went on to win the team's second Super Bowl that year. But in 2014, with the team at 2-2 and having played poorly in three of the four games, a return to the Super Bowl now seems more like an idle fantasy than a realistic goal.
In the 2014 draft, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick mystified NFL experts by spending the team's second round draft pick on Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, making the 2013 Walter Payton Award Winner the highest-drafted quarterback of the legendary coach's tenure in New England.
In the fourth quarter of Monday's game, Belichick made the rare move of benching Brady and handing the ball to Garoppolo, who proceeded to complete six of seven passes including a touchdown.
Asked on Monday whether the benching might become permanent, with Garoppolo taking over the starting role, Belichick responded with an eye roll and a smirk, as if the very idea was unthinkable.
Belichick on if there is a quarterback controversy in New England. https://t.co/jMNsWLXusUBut the coach never directly answered the question. His non-answer only accelerated speculation that Brady — who earlier this season pledged, "When I suck, I'll retire" — could be seeing his final days in New England. The Boston Globe declared that Brady's "end game has become apparent" and noted that Brady noticeably failed to congratulate Garoppolo on his first NFL touchdown pass.
— Dennis and Callahan (@DandCShow) September 30, 2014
Globe scribe Ben Volin also pointed out that Brady has an extremely "team-friendly" contract for a player of his credentials, paying him just $7 million next year, assuming he finishes 2014 on the Patriots roster.
"That's cheap money for the Patriots, but it's also cheap money for a team desperate for a quarterback — like, say, Houston, where the coach (Bill O'Brien) is a close ally. Or, say, Tampa Bay, where the general manager (Jason Licht) used to work for the Patriots and is close with Belichick," Volin wrote.Could the Patriots actually trade Tom Brady to Houston? Or to Tampa Bay, where Belichick dealt All Pro offensive lineman Logan Mankins before the season began, a loss that the Patriots now feel sorely. For Brady that soreness is literal as the O-line has been borderline incompetent when it comes to protecting their franchise quarterback.
Former Patriots star Rodney Harrison, now a TV commentator, said Tuesday that Brady appears "scared to death" whenever he drops back to pass.
New England Patriots rumors have truly run wild when it comes to Tom Brady, with some even suggesting that his faltering play this year is due to trouble in his marriage to 34-year-old Brazilian supermodel and fashion mogul Gisele Bundchen. Next week the Patriots play at home in a nationally televised Sunday night game, so the whole country may get the answers to the nagging questions about Tom Brady and his future in New England.
[Image via Hound Sports]