Tom Brady's Patriots exit could cause player exodus, says ex-Pats linebacker

The speculation surrounding Tom Brady's future continues as analysts and former players continue to provide different scenarios in the event the quarterback decides to leave the New England Patriots when he enters free agency in March. The 6-time Super Bowl winner has confirmed he will embrace free agency and look at all the options before deciding his future course of action.

Brady's former teammate Rob Ninkovich now believes the Patriots could lose more players this offseason if the future Hall of Fame signal caller decides to leave this summer. Devin McCourty, Kyle van Noy and Jamie Collins will also be free agents and the former Patriots linebacker believes they could sign elsewhere if Brady leaves.

"It's going to be difficult to try and bring everybody back. I would think if Tom comes back, one of those other players (McCourty, Van Noy, Collins) comes back," Ninkovich said, as quoted on the New York Post. "But if Tom doesn't come back, I don't know if those guys are going to want to stick around. Because what's the outlook for the team? Is it a rebuilding phase? What happens moving forward?"

The former linebacker, who won two Super Bowl titles with Brady, also believes Belichick and the Patriots will find it difficult to convince free agents to sign without the veteran quarterback on their books. He believes players signing for the Patriots in the previous seasons were convinced to take a smaller contract with the promise of playing in the post-season or even contending for a Super Bowl title but admits they are unlikely to be contenders if Brady leaves this summer.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady, a National Football League player. Wikimedia Commons/Jeffrey Beall

"That would be a hard sell," Ninkovich said. "In years past, the Patriots have been able to get guys at a bargain, because it's an older veteran, a guy who's looking for a Super Bowl, for a playoff run."

"They're approached by the Patriots, who say, 'Look, we're not going to guarantee the biggest contract, but we're going to give you an opportunity to play in the playoffs and Super Bowl if you're interested.' Ninety-nine percent of the guys are 'Yeah, I want some validation for my football career.'"

Ninkovich believes the Patriots will struggle if Brady does leave, which many believe will happen when he enters free agency this March. However, the former linebacker is certain that Belichick will find a way to make it work and build a team that will do well in the league.

"It won't be easy without Tom. It'll definitely be a struggle," he added. "I think Bill would be able to figure things out, because he's one of the best at figuring things out."