The best part of the NFL combine is the stuff you don't see on TV. While some tune in to watch prospects for the 2020 draft weigh in and work out, those of us who cover the league year-round drop in on Indianapolis for the gossip. The scuttlebutt. The mining of sources for information about the league year to come.
The combine is basically an NFL convention, a concentration of coaches, executives, scouts and agents in the cozy, skyway-connected environs of downtown Indianapolis. If you do it the right way, you come out of the week better informed than when you arrived.
Of course, teams aren't allowed to talk to free agents or their agents until March 16, when the legal tampering period begins and teams and players can agree to deals but not sign them until 4 p.m. ET on March 18. But somehow, some stuff has a way of getting found out anyway in Indianapolis. It truly is a magical place.
We wanted to empty our notebooks and let you know a bunch of what we heard at this year's combine. Enjoy.
Tom Brady race wide open
The expectation is that Brady will seriously explore all options in free agency. There are plenty of people who'll tell you they're sure he's going back to New England, but those people don't offer too much explanation for why they think that. It just seems to make sense.
But there's also plenty of informed buzz about Brady landing elsewhere, and some of the more talked-about landing spots included the Chargers, Titans and Buccaneers. Miami weather makes the Dolphins a possibility for Tom and Gisele, though the Dolphins have kind of said they aren't a suitor. As one source said, it's concerning that a Brady deal with New England isn't done yet, and that could set the stage for mid-March fireworks.
One team exec said the Titans were the best on-field fit based on their play-action offense, bulldozer running back Derrick Henry and their athletic pass-catchers, particularly at tight end, a Brady necessity. But the Chargers have weapons and business needs; call it the TB12 ticket sales enhancement program.
Brady might not cost a fortune, either. Some teams are expecting $30 million per year max on a two-year or three-year deal at most. He is going on 43, after all. And we're told Patriots teammates are split on whether they feel he'll be back.
Ready for a wild audible? Two people close to Antonio Brown -- yes, that Antonio Brown -- told us Brady keeps in consistent contact with Brown and has told Brown he wants to play with him wherever Brady goes next.