As it turns out, the Patriots might be willing to pay top dollar to keep Tom Brady. However, it’s not just about the money.

According to the NFL Network, the Patriots are prioritizing Brady and are willing to pay him “in excess of $30 million per year to keep him in New England.” That’s significant money and would align Brady with the top paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

Money is a start, but not all that matters to Brady. According to the report, if the 42-year-old returns to the Patriots, “he wants to see the team spend on some weapons.”

The Patriots clearly lacked some punch last season and Brady was visibly frustrated with the situation. They added Antonio Brown, but that didn’t last long. They also started the season with Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon, but neither finished the year in Foxborough. The team also spent a first-round pick on receiver N’Keal Harry and then traded a 2020 second rounder for Mohamed Sanu. However, injuries set both players back.

The NFL Network also reported that the Los Angeles Chargers are expected to make a pitch to Brady if he become a free agent on March 18. The Chargers already have a handful of talented offensive players – receivers Keenan Allen (1,199 receiving yards) and Mike Williams (1,001 receiving yards) and running back Austin Ekeler (557 rushing yards and 993 receiving yards).

According to ESPN, the Raiders are also expected to pursue Brady.

If the Patriots are, in fact, willing to pay Brady over $30 million, it would take up a large part of the team’s salary cap. It would also show Brady that the team clearly values him. According to Spotrac, an average salary of $30 million would tie Brady with Matt Ryan for the sixth highest average salary among NFL quarterbacks. Russell Wilson ($35 million), Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million) and Carson Wentz ($32 million) all make more $30 million per season.

However, if the Patriots pay Brady $30 million, will they have enough cap space to add offensive talent?

According to Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan, the Patriots will have around $29 million in cap space when free agency starts in March. The team also has other important free agents – safety Devin McCourty, guard Joe Thuney, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and linebacker Jamie Collins among others. The team could do several things to create more cap space – release veterans or sign veterans to extensions to bring down their 2020 cap hit.

There’s also a timing issue. Due to the void years in Brady’s contract, if he signs after March 18, the Patriots will be stuck with $13.5 in dead money on their 2020 salary cap. If Brady signs before March 18 (and he can only do that with the Patriots), that dead cap hit would be spread out to $6.75 in 2020 and 2021.

Overall, it creates an interesting dilemma for both the Patriots and Brady.

According to the NFL Network, the Patriots could trade for a quarterback if Brady leaves. The report didn’t mention any names, but options could include Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Derek Carr and Josh Rosen. Upcoming free-agent quarterbacks include Drew Brees (who wants to either play in New Orleans or retire), Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

The Patriots also have a couple of in-house options with Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler.

CHARGERS: Coach Anthony Lynn has signed a contract extension beyond the 2020 season, a source with knowledge of the deal confirmed.

Lynn, 26-22 in three years with the Chargers, had one season remaining on the contract he signed when he was hired in January 2017. The exact length of his extension was not immediately known.

After going 12-4 and winning a playoff game in 2018, the Chargers struggled with injuries and turnovers this year in finishing 5-11.

Even with those difficulties, General Manager Tom Telesco continued to support Lynn.

The extension brings some clarity for the Chargers entering an offseason clouded by uncertainty on several fronts.

Quarterback Philip Rivers’ future with the team is in doubt. The 16-year veteran is about to become a free agent, with neither side sure what will happen.

He recently moved his family from their longtime home in San Diego to Florida, adding more intrigue to the situation.

Running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry – both key pieces to the offense – also are pending free agents.

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