Even in preseason, a buzz around Patriots thanks to Brady

The New England Patriots probably could have done their star quarterback a favor on Thursday and announced they were going to pay him by the hour.

If you just use Thursday night’s New England Patriots preseason opener as an example, Tom Brady might be even better off than the $5 million in supposedly very reachable incentives he’s getting to get to reportedly, $20 million for the season. That puts him just out of the top 10 QB list in terms of salary.

The buzz created by the Brady incentives had to be dulled by the plodding preseason, uh, action at Gillette Stadium, with the officials throwing plenty of flags and players making plenty of mistakes. Brady did not play in the first half against the Washington Redskins, standing on the sidelines in uniform but with no helmet in sight, and certainly wasn’t expected to play in the second.

What to take from Thursday’s return of Patriot football, which started with a 17-3 all Washington first half? Not a lot. There was probably more interest in Brady’s reported pay boost than what took place on the field.

Everyone wants to see TB 12 get mega money for three years so they can breathe a sigh of relief. But the fact remains as great as he’s been, he is still a 41-year-old NFL quarterback. Repeat: 41-year-old NFL quarterback. They don’t normally get multi-year extensions. Especially when they drop hints all off-season that they may not be long for the job.

Should Brady be insulted there was no guaranteed money? Well, he and his agent, Don Yee, ultimately agreed to it, and he is also still under contract for next year as well. Is Rob Gronkowski next? It would be a shock if the Patriots don’t sweeten his deal again, even if it’s the way they did it a year ago (with incentives).

So many questions, so much speculation, especially in a year where there’s been so much off-season drama, certainly fueled by social media.

A lot of the focus has been on who Brady will throw to. Here’s who Hoyer targeted in the first half: Tight end wannabe Jacob Hollister, wideout Phillip Dorsett, five year veteran back Jeremy Hill, Chris Hogan (called for pushing off on a play) and Devin Lucien (two big receptions at end of the half).

Let the record show the first play for the Patriots since the Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia (who comes here next week, by the way) was a 3-yard Mike Gillislee run.

Brady will have to make do with what he has, but remember, he still has Gronkowski and after four games, Edelman. Hogan basically becomes the most reliable deep threat.

Matthew Slater, Kenny Britt, running back Rex Burkhead and Trey Flowers were the most notables who weren’t playing Thursday, along with injured rookie Sony Michel. Michel is a big loss if his knee woes continue.

But of more concern would be the New England defense. It allowed Redskin backup QB Colt McCoy to nickel and dime it, and Kyle Van Noy missed tackle on Washington receiver Byron Marshall gave the Redskins a touchdown on their second possession. Of course, in preseason, no one prepares for much, defenses are vanilla, but tackling is fundamental at any time. McCoy also set up his second TD pass with a 57-yard completion to Ken Sims, beating someone you won’t be concerned about come September, corner and seventh rounder Keion Crossen.

The most memorable defensive play of the first half was corner Ryan Lewis’ hit on Washington receiver Trey Quinn that left Quinn dazed. Officials saw it as a clean play as Lewis didn’t make helmet contact. He’s an undrafted free agent signed by the Cardinals who ended up on the Patriots practice squad last year.

Tom Brady, you didn’t miss much. But the raise you’re supposedly getting doesn’t seem like much, either.

Maybe that shouldn’t matter. Or maybe it should. At any rate, NFL/Patriots 2018 is underway.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, tking@nashuatelegraph.com., or @Telegraph_TomK.