— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 7, 2018
Tom Brady will again have to go without Julian Edelman to start the season.
This time, his fellow TB12 client won’t be missing time because of his ACL but rather testing positive for a PED during rehab that led to his return to OTAs this spring.
On Thursday, Brady held his first media availability since returning to official training activities for mandatory minicamp.
“It’s so official,” Brady smiled before taking to the array of microphones on the training fields outside Gillette Stadium.
Just minutes after his four-minute press availability, Adam Schefter and Field Yates of ESPN broke the news that Edelman is facing a 4-game suspension for testing positive for a PED in violation of NFL policy. This means that Jordan Matthews, Braxton Berrios, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Mitchell suddenly have opportunities to push for more playing time alongside Chris Hogan, at least for the first four games if Edelman’s appeal doesn’t work.
And Dez Bryant is still out there on the free agent market.
This entirely overshadows Brady’s comments, which included his insistence that he has a “great” relationship with head coach Bill Belichick, that he didn’t think about retirement at all in the offseason and that his hope that his voluntary absence from OTAs doesn’t impact the rest of the team this season.
“It’s been a just a good process for me,” Brady said. “It’s been fun to be out here with my teammates. I’m excited about the year. Every year there’s some different challenges and this good. It’s been a good three days. Try to keep it going and get ready for camp.”
Brady, who turns 41 on Aug. 3, quickly answered “no” when asked if he had thought about retiring over the last couple of months.
There was still a sense from the quarterback that he’s not entirely sure whether his absence from OTAs will negatively impact newcomers like Matthews or rookies Sony Michel and Berrios.
“I hope not,” Brady said.
“Every year has different challenges, you know,” Brady said. “Obviously, this team has very high expectations. We’re trying to win every game. That’s what are goals are. We have a lot of time to work on literally, figuratively. There’s a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s going to be up us individually to prepare as best we can. And then, collectively, when we come together, we do the same.”
What changed this year in Brady’s usual attendance to OTAs?
“It’s obviously important for everybody,” Brady said. “Our coaches do a great job of getting us ready. Just some personal reasons for me that… But I’m here now and focus on what I need to do and I’m looking forward to this year.”
Any tension with Bill?
“Not at all,” the quarterback insisted. “It’s great. We’ve always had a great relationship. I’ve been here for a long time. I love this team. I love this organization and I love playing quarterback for them. I loved it last year. I’m having a lot of fun now so that’s obviously what’s most important to me.”
Brady said he’s in a good place after time away from the formal OTA practices this spring.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Brady said. “It’s good. I always try to figure out different things I need to do in the offseason to prepare myself to be the best I can be. Obviously, I evaluate last season and things I can do better. I don’t think this offseason was any different for me. I thought about the things I need to do and focus on those things, so I can be the best I can be when training camp comes.”
Brady, signed through 2019 and due to make a base salary of just $14 million this season, didn’t want to discuss whether his contract might be an issue.
“I’ve never talked about my contract,” he said. “I’ve never brought up money I think for a lot of reasons that I’ve said over the years. Those things are very personal.”