With the start of the league’s new year on March 18 fast approaching, talks about quarterback Tom Brady’s future with the New England Patriots are heating up. 42-year-old Brady will enter uncharted waters as he turns free unrestricted agent for the first time in his 20-year career. In his latest interview, Brady said he will keep an open mind on the free-agent process and embrace whatever the future brings.

In a past interview, Brady hinted that he wants to stay with the Patriots and playing for another team hasn’t entered his mind.

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, in an interview with TMZ Sports, provided a ray of hope about Brady’s future in New England when he declared that the team intends to keep him as their starting quarterback. But as of now, Brady is putting his decision regarding his future on the backburner and focusing on decompressing after the Patriots’ playoff campaign ended with a 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Game.

Adam Schefter of ESPN provided the latest update on the Brady-Patriots saga during Thursday’s episode of “Get Up”.

According to Schefter, the Patriots want an answer from Brady before March 16 if he will stay in New England or not. Schefter explained that the Patriots don’t want a repeat of Rob Gronkowski’s incident when the tight end suddenly declared his retirement while free agency was already underway. Asking Brady early would avoid being caught off guard without a quarterback and they could move on with another signal-caller.

Smith says Brady should sit back and wait for Patriots

Schefter’s report did not sit well for ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, who expressed his displeasure on ESPN’s “First Take”. “Tom Brady should sit back and wait to see what the Patriots do. Don’t do them any more favors. You’ve done enough for them over the years. Now, sit back and let them take the first step,” said Smith, referring to Brady giving the Patriots several hometown discounts in the past to enable the team to sign good players.

Rather than ask Brady what he wants to do, Smith said the Patriots should initiate the first move inform the veteran quarterback what they want to do. “By virtue of what they tell you should play a role in dictating or impacting your decision.”

Patriots must put offer on table

Smith said the Patriots should place their offer to Brady on the table before their long-time quarterback makes the decision on his next move. “Tom Brady has earned the right at the very least for the Patriots to stay front and center and say ‘this is what we want do, here’s why’. He should not make the first move,” Smith stressed.

Earlier, various analysts say that Brady should stick with the Patriots as they give him the best chance to win his seventh Super Bowl ring as compared to joining other teams such as the Los Angeles Chargers or the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders. Recently, former Patriots teammate Danny Amendola said he can’t imagine Brady wearing another jersey.

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