In today's episode of Season Ticket, Chris Gasper (@cgasper) and Ben Volin dig into a juicy story from ESPN's Seth Wickersham that details a growing rift among the three key members of the Patriots dynasty: Tom Brady, Robert Kraft, and Bill Belichick. They discuss Kraft siding with Brady over Belichick in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, Alex Guerrero's role in planting the seeds of discontent, and whether this will be Belichick's last year as Patriots coach.
- Ben Volin (@BenVolin), National NFL Reporter, The Boston Globe
On whether Brady demanded the Patriots trade former backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Chris Gasper: Seth Wickersham has it in this story that two weeks before the trade deadline, Belichick and Kraft meet to discuss the quarterback situation. It's a very long meeting lasting half the day, pushing back Belichick's other meetings. That had the office buzzing there. The meeting ends, according to Wickersham, with a clear mandate from Kraft to Belichick: trade Jimmy Garappolo because he's not in the team's long-term plans. Obviously, that benefits Tom Brady. Do you think Brady went around Belichick here to get Garoppolo traded?
Ben Volin: Certainly this story implies that. Brady started meeting with Kraft in October to talk about his long-term future. While there may not have been a direct mandate from Brady, "Hey, trade this guy or I'm out of here," it does seem like he made a power play and put the pressure on the Patriots to say, "Hey, it's either him or me." In the end, obviously, Robert Kraft at least is going to be loyal to Tom Brady. So, it's not all fun and games in Foxboro right now. There's clearly some issues going on behind the scenes.
"It's not all fun and games in Foxboro right now. There's clearly some issues going on behind the scenes."Ben Volin
On Belichick's reaction to trading Garoppolo
Ben Volin: [The article] said he was demoralized after being told that he had to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. And I understand why Belichick would be upset. He drafted Garoppolo. The whole goal is to go from one star quarterback to the next ... and Belichick had it all set up. He had the guy groomed, he picked the right guy, and then, when the time came, the Patriots threw all their rules out the window and they chose the old guy over the young guy. They stuck with Tom Brady and forced Bill Belichick to give up his hand-groomed successor. So, if you're Bill Belichick, of course you're upset.
On Alex Guerrero's role in all of this
Ben Volin: The other thing I find interesting is the Alex Guerrero angle of this and how the article portrays him as trying to purposefully drive a wedge into the Patriots. Belichick said that players can no longer see Alex at Gillette Stadium, but Alex tried to tell the players that Belichick is trying to ban you from going to me all together, trying to create some resentment there.
On Garoppolo's legacy in New England
Chris Gasper: The big takeaway I have from this Seth Wickersham story is that Jimmy Garoppolo's legacy as a New England Patriot, believe it or not, might be driving a wedge between Brady and Belichick and between Belichick and Kraft. That might be his lasting legacy here.
Ben Volin: Yeah, no question. An interesting nugget in this story was that Belichick takes a lot of pride in how Garoppolo is playing for San Francisco, that he's 5-0. So, part of his legacy will be that Belichick finally developed a heck of a quarterback other than Brady ... But, as you said, [Garoppolo's] certainly driving a wedge in this relationship between Brady, Kraft and Belichick.
"The Patriots threw all their rules out the window and they chose the old guy over the young guy."Ben Volin, on the Garoppolo trade
On Tom Brady's desire to play deep into his 40s
Ben Volin: I've said from the beginning, I think they should have franchise tagged Jimmy, kept him for one more year. I'd have let Tom have this year and then next year ... You also have to wonder, like, "Tom, you've accomplished everything at this point. You have your five or six rings. You've made more money in the world than any athlete. Like, what else do you have to prove? Time to move on with your next phase in life. Go start TB12 and spend more time with you family." You start to wonder, why does he continue to keep playing when he's already proved everything there is to prove?
Chris Gasper: I think a lot of great athletes are just driven by people who doubt them. But, I think part of this is ... the best branding, the best marketing, for TB12 is Tom Brady being on the field and playing at a high level until he's 45 years old.
On Tom Brady's performance
Chris Gasper: In this story, it says that the Patriots ... when they privately evaluate Brady, see slippage in his game as a 40-year-old quarterback.
Ben Volin: Yeah, that sounds like it's not coming from the Brady camp, that's for sure. And probably not from the Kraft camp either. So, that leaves only one camp left. I think we've seen it. The last six or seven games Brady has not looked his sharpest.
"At the core of this disagreement is that these are two really proud, accomplished guys who both feel deep down inside that they are most responsible for the Patriots run of success."Chris Gasper
On the relationship between Brady and Belichick
Chris Gasper: The Brady-Belichick relationship ... has always been a professional relationship. It's been a relationship of mutual respect and it's been a relationship that's been mutually beneficial, there's no question about that. But these guys are not personally close. And, I think when you're not personally close, it's easier for some sort of wedge to be driven between the two of you because your relationship is based on success ... I think at the core of this story, and at the core of this disagreement, is that these are two really proud, accomplished guys who both feel deep down inside that they are most responsible for the Patriots' run of success.
On whether this turmoil will cause Belichick to resign as head coach after the season
Ben Volin: I think they keep it going for another year. I don't think Belichick walks off. I definitely don't think Brady retires. He's in a position where he has to play for another three years now ... And I don't think Belichick walks off, but he could be faced with a daunting offseason. He's looking at replacing both coordinators, possibly his top GM, and he's going to have to start looking for another quarterback successor. So, it's a lot on his plate. So, if he did walk away I don't know if anyone would blame him. He had it all lined up and then it all kind of blew up in his face ... So, the end is coming soon, but I think probably next year it might be more realistic for him. I don't know. I just know I don't see him walking off quite yet.