A former Patriots linebacker believes there will be a domino effect when Tom Brady leaves New England.
Rob Ninkovich, now an ESPN analyst, expressed to the Boston Herald his belief that many other patriot freelance agents – including Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins – may tend to sign elsewhere if Brady leaves the Organization separates.
"It will be difficult to get everyone back. I think if Tom comes back one of these other players (McCourty, Van Noy, Collins) will come back," said Ninkovich, who won two Super Bowls with No. 12. "But if Tom I don’t know if these people want to stay here, because what are the prospects for the team? Is it a reconstruction phase? What will happen in the future? "
Ninkovich, who played in New England from 2009 to 2016 before retiring in 2017, is not sure if patriot coach Bill Belichick can convince freelance agents that the organization will remain a Super Bowl contender without her franchise quarterback.
"That would be a tough sale," said Ninkovich. "In the past few years, the patriots have managed to get boys a bargain price because it is an older veteran who is looking for a Super Bowl for a playoff run.
"You are addressed by the patriots who say," Look, we’re not going to guarantee the biggest contract, but we’ll give you the opportunity to play in the playoffs and Super Bowl if you’re interested. Ninety-nine percent of the boys are "Yes, I want a confirmation of my football career."
36-year-old Ninkovich said his "gut feeling" was that 42-year-old Brady was motivated to prove the opposite to many people. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case with the Patriots or another NFL organization. But if Belichick is forced to start the 2020 season without Brady, Ninkovich is sure that Belichick will find a way to make it work.
"It won't be easy without Tom. It will definitely be a struggle," he said, "I think Bill would be able to figure things out because he is one of the best at figuring things out."