Saints vs Patriots: The New England Patriots will be forced to play without Tom Brady for the first four weeks of the NFL season. So it only makes sense that they’ll start the preseason without him, too. According to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, Brady won’t play a single snap against the New Orleans Saints Thursday. That was also the plan heading into last year’s preseason opener, but Brady wound up starting the contest.
It’s been a turbulent off season for the four-time Super Bowl champion, who wasn’t able to stave off serving his Deflate Gate suspension like he did the previous year. A federal appeals court reinstated Brady’s four-game ban in late April and rejected to rehear his case a couple of months later. In a July Facebook post, Brady announced he would no longer continue his legal fight.
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“It has been a challenging 18 months and I have made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process,” he said. “I’m going to work hard to be the best player I can be for the New England Patriots and I look forward to having the opportunity to return to the field this fall.”
With Brady on the bench for the first quarter of the schedule, third-year backup Jimmy Garoppolo will stand under center when the Patriots start their season against the Arizona Cardinals Sept. 11. Garoppolo, 24, is largely an unknown commodity. He put up monstrous numbers at Eastern Illinois University, but he’s only thrown 31 passes in his NFL career.
While Brady is out of action, Garoppolo will have to find a way to jell with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. There haven’t been any injury concerns with Gronkowski this summer, but the same can’t be said for Edelman. He left practice Tuesday with a left foot injury, which is concerning given the fact he’s undergone two operations on that foot over the last year. Edelman returned to practice Wednesday, but he isn’t expected to play Thursday. Gronkowski, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola likely won’t step onto the field, either.
On the other side, Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he expects to play one series. Brees, 37, has been in the midst of a contract dispute with the team since the end of last season. It was reported in December the Saints were upset that Brees, who’s entering the final year of his deal, opted to maximize his contract instead of seeking a hometown discount. The star quarterback will command a whopping $30 million cap hit this season.
But as of late July, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said no progress was being made on negotiations with Brees. The veteran QB is often credited with revitalizing the Saints franchise after Hurricane Katrina, making eight Pro Bowls with the team and winning the Super Bowl in 2009.
Last season, New Orleans finished 7-9 for the second consecutive year. Despite that, head coach Sean Payton still signed a $45 million contract extension earlier this year.
Payton is set to remain in New Orleans for the long haul, and now the question is whether Brees will join him. That inquiry won’t be answered Thursday, but it will be Saints fans’ first opportunity to watch Brees in action –– even if it is only for a series.
How to Watch
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Fox borough, Mass.
TV: NFL Network; local – WBZ Boston, WVUE New Orleans
Announcers: Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham (Patriots); Joel Meyers, Sean Kelley, John Stinchcomb (Saints)
Online: NFL Game Pass