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Tom Brady rumors tracker: Latest free agency news, updates, projections to sign Patriots QB

Sporting News — (Tadd Haislop)

When it comes to wondering what will happen with Tom Brady and the Patriots as 2020 NFL free agency approaches, at this point, we're all in the same boat.

We have an idea of what the 42-year-old quarterback and the New England organization are thinking, but the decision that will create league-altering ripple effects is Brady's alone, and only he knows what's next for the greatest QB of all time. Yet it's clear there has been no decision on whether he will return to the Patriots or sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his 20-year career.

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Answers should be coming soon. If Brady is not on the Patriots' roster on March 18 at 4 p.m. ET, when the 2020 league year begins, the team will be hit with a $13.5 million dead cap charge (signing bonus acceleration), a number that will be cut in half if he re-signs. That's why coach/general manager Bill Belichick needs clarity on Brady's plans as soon as possible; it should go without saying that New England's entire approach to 2020 and beyond depends on whether Brady will be part of the process.

The NFL's legal tampering period for soon-to-be free agents is two days before the start of the league year, so if Brady wants to listen to other teams' pitches (without visiting), that's his first opportunity to do so within the league's rules.

Unless Brady and the Patriots come to some sort of agreement before March 16, the events of that 48-hour period likely will answer the question to which everybody wants the answer: Where will Brady play in 2020?

Until then, the rumors around the most accomplished passer in football history will swirl at a furious rate. Below is a timeline of those rumors.

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Tom Brady news, rumors on free agency

— Feb. 14: Larry Fitzgerald Sr., a member of the Minnesota media and father of the future Hall of Fame wide receiver, reports the Raiders are prepared to offer Brady $60 million for two years.

— Feb. 12: ESPN reports Brady and the Patriots have "not engaged in contract talks," but that there is "dialogue between him and the Patriots, which reflects that the situation is without animosity."

— Feb. 10: NFL Media confirms Patriots owner Robert Kraft is comfortable letting Brady test free agency. "From what I understand,"'s Ian Rapoport reports, "Kraft's thinking on this was basically, if the sides came together, if Brady decides that the Patriots were his best option after testing free agency, and if Bill Belichick — who of course is making the decisions for New England — if he decides that Brady is his best option at this price, then in the end after all of this after going through everything, that it will mean that it's basically meant to be."

— Feb. 2: Brady trolls the entire internet when his Hulu ad runs during the Super Bowl a few days after he posted a cryptic tweet. Brady says at the end of the commercial, "I'm not going anywhere." This prompts another round of what-does-it-mean analysis.

— Feb. 2: ESPN reports the Raiders "are poised to pursue Brady if he doesn't re-sign with the Patriots before free agency begins," citing coach Jon Gruden's admiration for the QB and desire to bring him to Las Vegas.

— Jan. 12: A week after the Patriots' wild-card playoff loss, Brady says on a Westwood One radio interview that contract talks are "really not my concern at this point. ... I love playing football. I love playing for (the Patriots) organization. I really don't know what it looks like moving forward, and I'm just taking it day to day."

— Jan. 9: Brady posts a message on his Instagram account that suggests he intends to keep playing in 2020. "In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You dont always win," the post reads. "You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that’s right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove."

— Jan 6: Kraft tells The MMQB's Peter King his "hope and prayer" is that Brady returns to New England, adding, "He has the freedom to decide what he wants to do and what’s in his own best personal interest." Adds Brady in a conversation with King: "I’ll explore those (free agency) opportunities whenever they are. If it’s the Patriots, great. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I love playing football. I still want to play football. I think I still can play at a championship level. I’ve just got to go do it. I’m motivated to get back to work and training."

— Jan 5: Soon after the Patriots lose to the Titans in the wild-card round of the playoff, Brady is asked about his future. "I don't know what the future looks like, and I'm not going to predict it," he says, adding it's "pretty unlikely" he will retire before the 2020 season. "Playing for (Kraft) and for Coach Belichick, there's nobody who's had a better career, I would say, than me. Just being with them. I'm very blessed."

— Oct. 27: CBS Sports reports the Chargers are a team to watch for Brady if the QB decides to leave the Patriots in free agency.