FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady spoke with reporters for the first time this training camp Wednesday, and his chosen tactic for dealing with the question of his contract was to express appreciation for the Patriots organization.
Asked if he were happy with his current contract, which is entering its final year, the Patriots quarterback said, “I’ve had such a great experience over a lot of years. I appreciate this team and the opportunity it gave me in 2000.
“I play for a great coach, coach [Bill] Belichick. Josh [McDaniels] and I have a great working relationship. I love Mr. [Robert] Kraft and his family. We’ve had just incredible success, so hopefully we keep it going.”
To keep it going beyond 2019, though, Brady and the Patriots need to strike a new deal. They still have plenty of time to reach an extension before the start of this season, and the Patriots should be motivated to do so in part because of the $27 million cap hit Brady’s deal would carry without an extension.
Still, there has been a notable lack of action on the contract front to this point.
Brady was asked if he would feel comfortable going year-to-year with his contract and answered cheekily but without clarity: “We’re all day-to-day, if you think about it.”
Asked if he felt he had earned an extension, Brady turned the question back at the reporter.
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s up for talk-show debate. What do you guys think?”
Brady suggested running a poll. Among Patriots fans, there wouldn’t be much suspense over how that would turn out.
There’s no huge reason for Brady to be pressing for an extension unless he’s supremely uncomfortable with the idea of playing out his contract, which he doesn’t seem to be. The impetus is more on the Patriots’ end, though they’re $7.5 million under the cap for now, so they don’t necessarily need to do anything.
Perhaps they’re still figuring out what kind of extension would be best. The combination of Brady’s age and continued high performance make that tricky. Going year-to-year with the almost-42-year-old might not be the worst thing, but it would leave a lot up to chance and invite continued questioning. Again, there is still plenty of time for a deal before the Sept. 8 opener.
Brady also talked about the offseason, in which one of his priorities was to bulk up a bit. He is listed at 225 pounds on the roster, same as last year, but says he’s starting out a bit bigger.
“I wanted to get a little bigger this year, put on a few more pounds and try to absorb the hits a little bit more, and I worked pretty hard at that,” Brady said. “It was good.
“I still realized when I got here I wanted to be a little more fluid and get back to the fluidity that I’m used to. There’s a difference between getting really dense and obviously being more pliable, and that’s really what my focus was.”
Brady didn’t spend his entire offseason in the weight room, of course. The quarterback talked about prioritizing family time and how much it’s meant to him to make his offseasons more about that.
“The last couple years, it’s been really great for me to spend offseasons with them and to really fill up that bucket and give them the support and love they need,” Brady said. “When I’m here doing my thing, my wife’s got to hold down the fort, and she has put a lot on hold over the years to support my dreams. I feel like it’s my responsibility as a husband to do the same for her.”
He kept up his on-field work with various receiving partners, including the retired Rob Gronkowski, N’Keal Harry, and Josh Gordon at various times.
Brady knows it’s going to be tough replacing Gronkowski, and said it’s not just on the coaching staff but on veterans like himself to help get newer players like Harry up to speed.
“To replace great players, it’s not like you just pick another one off the tight end tree,” he said.
Brady worked out with Gordon, who is still under an indefinite suspension from the NFL, at least once in June but said the extent of their time together didn’t go much beyond that.
“With Josh, it wasn’t many opportunities, but he was around and I needed someone to catch,” Brady said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing with him and obviously hope everything works out for him.”