When will Tom Brady make free agency decision? Key NFL dates to know


It seems like every day brings a new rumor about where Tom Brady may play in 2020.

But when will Brady actually make his decision?

That question is worth revisiting as the New England Patriots quarterback inches closer to becoming a free agent. So, we'll get right to the point: Here are four key dates you need to know, and how they'll impact when Brady chooses to either remain with the Patriots or sign elsewhere.

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Thursday, March 12 at 4 p.m. ET: Deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players.

How it impacts Brady: The Tennessee Titans reportedly are a serious suitor for Brady but have a decision to make about their own quarterback: Ryan Tannehill is set to become an unrestricted free agent and is eligible for the franchise tag.

If Thursday's deadline comes and goes without Tennessee franchising Tannehill, it means the Titans very much are in play for Brady. If Tennessee uses the tag on Tannehill, it likely takes New England's top competitor for Brady off the board.

Saturday, March 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET: Deadline for players to cast their votes approving or rejecting a new collective bargaining agreement.

How it impacts Brady: If a new CBA gets ratified, it provides clarity for all 32 teams entering free agency and could facilitate negotiations between Brady and the Patriots. If the players reject the new CBA, it's possible Brady's decision gets pushed back as the league and the NFL Players' Association work out a temporary solution. (NBC Sports' Peter King provides good context on the CBA vote here.)

Monday, March 16: The NFL's legal tampering period begins. Teams are able to contact and negotiate with players who are set to hit unrestricted free agency.

How it impacts Brady: As our Tom E. Curran reported, Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick already have been in touch. But Monday is the unofficial beginning of free agency, with the league allowing Brady and his agent, Don Yee, to talk with any team he likes.

If Brady has his ducks in a row, we could know where he's playing by Monday after he does due diligence with his top suitors.

Wednesday, March 18 at 4 p.m. ET: The NFL's 2020 league year officially begins. All 2019 contracts expire, and Brady officially becomes a free agent.

How it impacts Brady: If Brady isn't a member of the Patriots by Wednesday at 4 p.m., it doesn't bode well for New England, which would have to compete for the QB on the open market while deciding what to do with other key free agents like offensive lineman Joe Thuney, safety Devin McCourty and linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.

If you're a Patriots fan who wants Brady back in 2020, you're hoping for Brady to announce his return sometime in the next seven-to-nine days. Either way, this should be the last full week we go without a Brady decision.

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