Here's how Bill Belichick describes his relationship with Tom Brady

Two weeks ago, Bill Belichick was asked about Tom Brady's absence from the Patriots' voluntary offseason workouts.

"Yeah, I'm not gonna talk about the people who aren't here," Belichick told reporters at the time. "Guys who are here are improving, working hard and, uh, those are the guys we're going to focus on."

Brady is taking part in mandatory minicamp, which began this week. 

This prompted questions as to his whereabouts during OTAs. 

"It's a voluntary program," Belichick said. "You'll have to ask him about that."

And the future Hall of Fame coach was also asked about his relationship with his future Hall of Fame quarterback.

"I've always had a good relationship with Tom," Belichick said with all the emotion we've come to expect from a typical Belichick press conference. 

And while no one will remember that Brady skipped OTAs once the season begins, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora noted last month that the Patriots' quarterback probably ain't "doing cartwheels about an offseason in which his left tackle, starting running back and top wide receivers from 2017 are all gone." There's also the matter of his contract, which includes just $15 million on total compensation for 2018. That ranks 18th among all quarterbacks behind the likes of Sam BradfordBlake BortlesTyrod TaylorCase Keenum and Ryan Tannehill.

So why did Brady, who had been a regular participant in voluntary workouts prior to this offseason, decide to stay away until this week? Perhaps it's as something as simple as Brady wanting to spend more time with his family.

"I have a wife [Gisele Bundchen] that aspires to be a lot of things, and she travels a lot. My oldest son lives here in New York, three kids, and you're just always trying to juggle and you want to be there for them, and you want to be there for the hockey games and the soccer games," Brady said in March. "But you also realize the level of commitment it takes to give as much as you can to the team that needs you." 

 "It's a big commitment," Brady said during a Facebook documentary that aired earlier this year. "I'm sitting here, laying here three days after the year getting my Achilles worked on, my thumb. And you go, 'What are we doing this for? Who are we doing this for? Why are we doing this?' You've got to have answers to those questions and they've got to be with a lot of conviction. When you lose your conviction, you should probably be doing something else."

Brady wasn't the only big-name Patriots player to miss voluntary workouts only to show up for mandatory minicamp; tight end Rob Gronkowski is there too.

"I'll be there this week," he told reporters over the weekend. "I'll be full go. I'm looking forward to it. Can't wait to get back to work. I'm excited."

Whether any of this -- the absences, the perceived issues bubbling under the surface -- will have an effect on the Patriots in 2018 remains to be seen. Every offseason we hear about "this being the year the rest of the AFC catches up to the Pats," and every year New England ends up as one of the NFL's best teams.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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