New England Patriots

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick head out onto the field to shake hands with the Buffalo Bills after their 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot. Sentences like that have become reality. It may take time for many across New England to get used to the surreal nature of Tuesday’s news, but the truth seems to be that Brady and Bill Belichick had long been moving toward a mutual parting of ways.

Still, there has to be a chicken for the egg, or an egg for the chicken, or however you interpret that riddle. If anyone got this ball rolling, it’s Belichick, and he did it with a reported offer he made to Brady last summer that he never changed. Belichick drew his line at last summer’s offer and that was it. Brady decided it was best to try a new adventure in Tampa where he’ll see more commitment from the team than he was going to get here – perhaps anywhere else.

What about that offer, though? Gasper & Murray co-host Christopher Gasper has a fiery new column in the Boston Globe where he really takes Belichick to task for essentially pushing Brady out the door, perhaps before his real expiration date despite entering his age-43 season.

In the story, Gasper reveals that the offer from Belichick last summer was the same basic numbers that Drew Brees got in his last two extensions with the Saints: two years, $50 million.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with Tom Brady #12 before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with Tom Brady #12 before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

The mystery remains, though, as to how much of that $50 million that Brady was truly set to see. Brees’ last two-year deal in 2018 had $27 million guaranteed and figures to get at least that much, if not more on his new deal. It would be surprising if Belichick decided to guarantee as much as $27 million after maxing out at $23 million while Brady had one of his worst statistical seasons at age 42. It’s more likely the offer was (again) incentive-laden and not likely to get anywhere near the reported $30 million per year he’s getting from Tampa.

What I felt all along was that no team would offer Brady more than one year, and that’s why he’d ultimately have a smaller market than expected and return to the Patriots despite enticing offers from Tampa and Los Angeles. But the reporting implies that Tampa has given him 2-3 years and they’re the only team known to make any offer at all during the legal tampering period. So I was almost right about that.

Apparently the Patriots offered to commit to Brady for more than one year – or at least they made it look that way. It’s more likely that Belichick’s final offer was a glorified one-year deal set up for a subsequent restructure or change of direction. So Brady gave himself the freedom to go elsewhere if he wanted, and he’s actually bitten the bullet and done it.

And the main reason he’s choosing Tampa over New England, it appears? Commitment. Real, actual commitment.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.