- Tom Brady is not with the New England Patriots for the voluntary OTAs.
- Brady has said in the past that he believes OTAs are important for setting up a team for a strong offseason.
- While Brady is far from the first player to skip OTAs, it’s noteworthy that he isn’t there for the first time since 2011 in light of the reported ongoing rift within the team.
Tom Brady caused a stir on Monday by deciding to skip the New England Patriots’ OTAs, voluntary offseason workouts.
Brady isn’t the only player to skip the offseason workouts, both this year and in years past, but the spotlight is greater because it’s Brady and because of the ongoing rift within the team.
Even more eye-opening, Brady has praised OTAs in the past as “laying the foundation” for a great season – great offseason workouts can lead to a positive training camp and successful season.
Brady told Patriots.com in 2013 that he thinks OTAs are important, even if they can seem insignificant at the moment.
“[Head coach Bill Belichick] talks about, you think it’s just an OTA in the springtime, and it’s not that important and all those things that probably could enter your mind,” Brady said. “The truth is, this lays the foundation for the start of training camp and if you have a good training camp, it usually means a good start to the season. A good start to the season leads to good position entering the second half of the season. Everything ends up having some significance to it. You’re not just out here running plays and going through different things that aren’t going to mean anything. We’re out here trying to get a lot of things accomplished.”
As The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin noted, Brady attended OTAs from 2011-2017 after skipping them from 2008-2010, his only stretch without a Super Bowl appearance. If things ever get turbulent for Brady and the Patriots this season, his absence from OTAs may be brought up.
In 2013, Brady also said that Belichick is just as intense in OTAs as he is at any point in the season.
“It’s really never ending, especially when you play for Coach Belichick,” Brady said. “Especially in practices when the offense goes against the defense because if the offense makes a play then the defense sucked and if the defense makes a play then the offense sucked, so someone is really going to get yelled at on every play. There’s always lowlights when we come in on the next day. Even if it was a great offensive play, he’s going to yell at someone on the defense. We’ve become a bit used to that now, and that’s part of the learning process and also learning how to play for the Patriots and understand the criticism that you’re getting and hopefully use it constructively so you can improve as a player.”
On Tuesday, Belichick didn’t sound eager to speak about Brady.
“I'm not going to talk about the people that aren't here," Bill Belichick told reporters today, when asked if he's spoken to Tom Brady. "The guys who are here are improving, they're working hard. Those are the guys we're going to focus on."
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 22, 2018
All of this is relevant in light of the internal drama the Patriots are reportedly experiencing. In this offseason alone, Brady has made his return to the team official much later than usual and joked that he would “plead the Fifth” when asked if he feels appreciated by the Patriots.
Voluntary workouts, of course, are just that. Brady has spoken about the sacrifice his family makes adhering to the football schedule, so it’s not a surprise that he may want to spend more time with them if he’s not required to be with the team. Rob Gronkowski is also skipping the workouts, with many believing it’s to hold out for a new contract.
But Brady’s decision feels different because it’s borderline unprecedented for him. Even after a run to the Super Bowl and time away from a drama-filled season, it doesn’t sound like things have been patched over internally with Brady and the organization.