New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft called contract talks with Tom Brady "complicated" in an interview with Sirius radio on Thursday, while reiterating his feelings that the franchise is fortunate to have the quarterback.
"I'm privileged to have a pretty special relationship with him. I think he knows how I feel about him," Kraft said. "I think we both want to solve the problem, or the issue. I don't know that it's a problem. It's complicated."
Kraft did not elaborate on what makes the talks complicated, but in past comments to media members he cited the NFL's uncertain labor situation as a significant hurdle.
In March at the NFL's owners meeting, Kraft spoke confidently about striking a deal with Brady. "Let's put it like this: Tom Brady is going to be part of this franchise. He wants to be, we want him," Kraft said.
Last week, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports wrote on a "growing sense of disconnect" between Brady and the Patriots. At his charity football game last Friday, Brady did not directly address the issue.
"I really don't want to talk about it a whole lot, because there is nothing anybody can solve other than the team and myself," he said. "There are a lot of guys in my situation. I'm just excited being back on the field with the guys."
Since Brady was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, he has never entered the final year of a contract. In 2005, he had inked a six-year pact worth approximately $60 million. That deal was restructured and slightly sweetened in 2007 in conjunction with the team acquiring receiver Randy Moss in a trade.
Brady is scheduled to earn a base salary of $3.5 million this season and also had a $3 million roster bonus. A contract extension for Brady, based on other top deals for quarterbacks, will likely be worth around $15 million per season.
Last Friday, Brady deflected questions about a contract extension.
"I really haven't been thinking about it a whole lot," he said. "It's just part of the process. I love being out on the field with the guys, and playing. That's really where my head's at."
In the Sirius radio interview Thursday with co-hosts Adam Schein and Jim Miller, Kraft was asked if Brady spending more offseason time in California is an issue.
Kraft responded by saying that the team would prefer all players to train at the team's facility because it helps develop team chemistry, among other things, but that he was also understanding of why some players train elsewhere.
"In fairness, as players mature and grow older, they have responsibilities. When Tom first joined us, he was single. He's now married, with a child, as many of our players are," he said.
"Rodney Harrison, there wasn't a more dedicated team guy, and I remember I didn't feel great when he went down to Atlanta and was with his family there. [But] he'd come back and man, he didn't miss a beat. He'd kick in and play hard.
"So it's hard to sit in judgment of what's right or wrong. In the end, when he's around, things are pretty special. We hope he's here as much as he can be."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.