in the 102nd Rose Bowl Game on January 1, 2016 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

FOXBOROUGH, MASS — The decision by Stanford star Christian McCaffrey to forego his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL Draft looks to have major repercussions beyond just the Cardinal football program as it seems likely the New England Patriots will be open to dealing franchise legend Tom Brady in order to move up in the draft and take the running back.

Sources close to Bill Belichick say the head coach is “smitten” with McCaffrey and believes it could be the right time to unload Brady — who will turn 40 before next season — and get the maximum return.

“We’ve proven in the past, with guys from Richard Seymour to Jamie Collins, that we don’t put loyalty above what’s best for the team,” said a team source. “And it may be Tom’s time now. We have young, cheap talent behind him on the roster in Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. And with Christian McCaffrey out there, well … it’s definitely intriguing.”

Belichick has reportedly repeatedly praised McCaffrey’s “toughness, grit, heart, high motor and intelligence” since he burst onto the national scene a year ago. Some staffers have walked in on him watching McCaffrey film when he was supposedly preparing for Patriots opponents.

“He wants Christian more than any small white guy he’s ever wanted before,” said a team scout. “He is Bill’s white whale. But, you know, much smaller and he thinks he can actually get him.”

The Patriots likely would have no problem dealing Brady, especially since Cleveland is currently positioned to get the №1 pick and San Francisco is №2. Belichick has traded frequently with the Browns and has a good relationship with 49ers head coach Chip Kelly. Brady would give the Browns their first legitimate MVP candidate at the quarterback position since the great Brian Sipe in 1980.

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