The Patriots face the Saints in both teams' preseason opener tonight and one storyline that continues to swirl is quarterback Tom Brady and his contract status. Brady enters the final year of his contract for the first time, a topic that has generated significant discussion and debate in New England in recent months.
Most seem to think the deal will get done. The only question is when.
Could the time be now?
Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown made the point that Brady would like to have a contract solidified before the preseason opener, because he wouldn't want to step on the field and assume the risk of injury without long-term security.
I don't think Brady's deal will get done today, but my sense is that the sides are engaged in active talks that have been substantial and productive. My feeling is that enough groundwork has been established over the last year that it's at a stage where things could come together rather quickly.
On Sunday, owner Robert Kraft and Brady played a round of golf together on the Cape (hat tip to the Boston Herald for first reporting the outing), and I think that is significant when it comes to negotiations.
Kraft often says he "measures nine times and cuts once" when it comes to big decisions, and I look at Sunday's golf outing as part of his measuring process.
Before making what will easily be his most significant investment in a player contract, it makes sense to me that Kraft would want to spend some away-from-football time with Brady; time that would give him more comfort that the two are still aligned given the changes in both of their lives in recent years.
The same is true for Brady, but in a reverse sense. If he's going to commit to the organization long-term, it makes sense to think he'd want more information on the direction Kraft is leading the franchise.
Things can always change quickly and deals can fall apart. But the signs look promising that the Patriots and Brady are as close as they've been to striking that long-term deal.