AFC East: The Big Question 71310

NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How will Patriots QB Tom Brady handle his contract issues?

In New England, it’s all about team. Bill Belichick and the organization have stressed the team concept in winning three Super Bowls during the 2000s. Because it’s a team, the Patriots have asked their players to take a little less in pay in order to keep this team together. Like most Patriots, Brady took less and thought little about it.

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
Jerome Davis/Icon SMITom Brady is entering the last year under his contract.
Now, everyone is doing a lot of thinking. Brady is in the last year of his contract at a time it is very hard to do a long-term deal because of the league’s current labor woes. With Peyton Manning having some of the same difficulties in Indianapolis, the chances of a contract extension getting done for Brady before the start of camp would seem to be impossible.

Brady has a decision. Does he simply report and hope something gets done or does he try to make a statement with a holdout? A Brady holdout could be the biggest story of the NFL this summer. Over the past couple of years, Brady and his teammates have watched a few key members of the Super Bowl teams -- such as Asante Samuel and Richard Seymour -- leave in free agency or trades.

The Patriots face a potential holdout from Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins, who arguably is the team’s best blocker. Top guards get $8 million a year, and the Patriots are offering $6.5 million.

Mankins hasn’t signed his restricted free-agent tender; it’s possible that tender will be reduced to 110 percent of his 2009 base salary, or $1.54 million. He can hold out without getting fined.

Odds favor Brady showing up in good faith and hoping for a deal, but he has made it clear he doesn’t want to take a discount in this next contract. No one knows where the salaries of Brady or Manning could end up. Some think Manning could end up commanding more than $20 million a year.

In the meantime, Brady has to decide if he wants to create controversy by making this a big story by not showing up for the start of camp. The ball is in his court.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

AFC EAST SCOREBOARD