The Patriots may have become irritated due to a report that said the franchise would be willing to spend more than $30 million per year to keep legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady, the six-time Super Bowl winner with New England, is set to become a free agent for the first time this March and his future has been the top story of the NFL offseason.
NFL Network, citing sources, said last week the Patriots would pay Brady “in excess of $30 million” annually moving forward, which would put the 42-year-old alongside the most lucrative NFL stars.
That juicy figure has become “a source of irritation for the team,” according to NBC Sports, which said that while the Patriots are willing to give Brady what he wants, they have not yet set parameters on a possible deal.
“That number is now an albatross to the proceedings,” the report said.
There has been speculation that Brady, who has said he wants to play until 45, could leave the Patriots after a disappointing season that saw New England upset by the Titans in the AFC wild-card round.
Brady appeared frustrated throughout the season, often appearing to direct his anger toward his wide receivers.
A follow-up report from NFL Network indicated Brady is more concerned with adding offensive talent around him than making $30 million or more next year. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said he hopes Brady either plays for the Pats, or retires.
If Brady were to leave the Patriots, it is believed the Raiders, embarking on their first season in Las Vegas, would be in the running to sign him. Backup and second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham would then be an option to replace Brady as the Patriots’ starter.
Brady was paid $23 million on a one-year contract last season, and has made $235 million in 20 seasons with the Patriots.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson currently is the league’s highest-paid player and makes $35 million annually, as part of a four-year, $140 million contract signed in 2019 with Seattle.