Tom Brady's contract situation. What's new?
I said that the sides have had discussions, on and off, over the past year. At this time, the discussions aren't active, so Brady is expected to show up to training camp under his existing contract, which pays a $3.5 million base salary (he also earned a $3 million roster bonus in March). That $6.5 million figure for 2010 is well under market value for a player of Brady's caliber.
What is a bigger factor -- the labor uncertainty or Brady waiting to see what No. 1 pick Sam Bradford receives in a deal?
My response was that it is hard to pinpoint one aspect that is holding this up, although the labor uncertainty is a factor. Overall, my sense is that the Patriots might not feel a 100 percent urgency, from a timetable standpoint, to strike a deal because of the potential changes ahead with the collective bargaining agreement. One factor could be Robert Kraft and the challenging position he is in. He is a leading voice among owners in labor talks. He must balance the NFL's interests and the Patriots' interests and that is a fine line to walk in this negotiation. If he signs off on a record Brady deal that is similar to what Matthew Stafford received as the No. 1 pick in 2009, or to what Bradford is expected to receive as the No. 1 pick in 2010, he must consider how that might affect his standing as a leading voice among owners in the labor battle.
So is everything OK between the two sides?
I said that it is my opinion they are both aware of what this is -- strictly business. Brady gets it. This is a business relationship and Brady knows how the business works (he's seen it over the years with other teammates). I said I'd be shocked if Brady does not end up signing a long-term contract with the team at some point, and that I'd be shocked if Brady is not at training camp. He is expected to be there.
Where do things stand with Logan Mankins?
Unlike Brady's contract situation, this one is different -- more contentious. I said I didn't expect Mankins to be at training camp, as he is not under contract and can't be fined. The sides have not found a middle ground and there has been no movement toward one in recent weeks.
One other point that came to mind after the interview: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is in a similar situation as Brady, entering the last year of his contract. That could have added more context to the discussion as the Colts are in a similar situation with their star quarterback.