And honestly I'd be fine with however they decide to ultimately approach it. If they decide they want to completely tank for a year after TB12 retires because they wanted to put a better team around him for his last 2-3 years, that is fine by me. But if they want to remain competitive the next year in a way that teams like Denver and Indy weren't after Manning left, then I'm ok with that approach too.Yeah, it's a great point. I think this is likely to be a minor cap correction for the Patriots but they've done a great job at never mortgaging their future so that when the day(s) of reckoning come they are going to be mild.
Consider this -- for going on 20 years the Patriots had had an elite quarterback but they've managed prior to last year never to take a cap hit of more than $15 million on him, except once ($17 million in 2010). Some of this is due to Brady signing for under market -- although some of that is exaggerated. But the key is they've also never used Brady to take a big cap savings in any given year, except once (2012). They've essentially spread it out very well, never getting greedy.
But those millions here and there add up. Last year they took a $22 million hit. They paid for it by borrowing a bit from Gilmore's cap. And they got lucky in that they got two players who are essentially $30 million combined players on the open market in Brown and Flowers, for very little. But the Gilmore trick really only works once. At least for the next couple of years. And now Brady is at $27 million and the day of reckoning is here unless they want to saddle their future like the Saints are doing.
It's time for them to make a very fundamental choice this year in a way that they haven't had to worry about before, except maybe a bit last year. Do they make moves now that increase the severity of the day of reckoning but postpone it for maybe another year or two? Or do they trust themselves to find the next Cooks or Brown -- and get a useful starting player for very little by getting creative? You can't decide this in the abstract. It all depends on what comes along. Perhaps they liked Humphries enough that they were willing to stretch for example in a way they wouldn't for other players. But, by and large, I'm fine with them adopting the conservative approach and just taking their medicine on Brady this year and see what happens.