Tom Brady's contract looms over Patriots

Nobody is ready to envisage Tom Brady in another team's uniform before the end of his career. His rift with the New England Patriots isn't that serious.

But with July about to enter its fourth quarter, Brady's contract situation has emerged as a major storyline and could cause him to hold out from training camp.

Brady and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning are entering the final years of their deals, and they're monitoring what the St. Louis Rams will give No. 1 draft choice Sam Bradford.

Bradford is about to become a wealthy rookie. ESPN's John Clayton predicts the contract will average $13 to $14 million a year, while colleague Adam Schefter reports Bradford will receive between $45 million to $50 million in guarantees.

In a couple of ESPN Radio podcasts that mull Brady's situation, Clayton speaks with "AllNight" hosts Jason Smith, and NFL analyst Darren Woodson visits with "Mike & Mike in the Morning."

"They're nowhere close," Clayton says, "and Tom has made it clear to management that he doesn't want to give any sacrifices. He wants top dollar, and he's earned top dollar.

"You're taking about the two clearest Hall of Famers of this era, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. And last we checked, Tom has three Super Bowl rings; Peyton Manning has one. Tom, I'm sure, will get less ultimately than Peyton Manning, but he doesn't want to take less than what Tom Brady should naturally be able receive."

Clayton declined to predict whether Brady would hold out, but said it's a "possibility."

Woodson advised the Patriots to be proactive about Brady heading into camp to show the rest of the locker room they're committed to winning.

"As an organization," Woodson says, "the Patriots should at least reach out before training camp and show some good faith, not only to Tom Brady, but to some of the other players also, who are going to be sitting there, [saying] 'This is our franchise quarterback. If you're not going to pay our franchise quarterback ... what does that say about the organization?'

"There's no way in the world this team should go into training camp without paying him. I think it's a confidence builder for not only Tom Brady, but it's also a confidence builder to the rest of the guys to say 'Right now, we are built on winning and this organization will reach out and pay some guys.' "