Tom Brady has been a New England Patriot for the previous 20 years. He might not stick round for a 21st.
The 2-time MVP and six-time Tremendous Bowl champion is ready to hit free company for the primary time in his profession. Which means he might be probably the most sought-after participant within the league, even when the Patriots are prepared to throw upwards of $30 million yearly to maintain him in Foxborough.
If 2019 is any indication, 2020 Brady can be a barely above-average passer who principally avoids dangers, beats the groups he’s purported to, and wins video games with a heavy help from his protection. There’s an opportunity that would change with a greater supporting forged. There’s the same likelihood that, at age 43, his inevitable decline is lastly upon him.
He’s made it clear there’s fuel left in his tank, although. And it’s doable he spends 2020 someplace apart from New England. The Raiders are reportedly planning a dogged pursuit, they usually might not even be a top-seven vacation spot for his companies.
So which groups may present the softest touchdown spot? Let’s have a look at the early standouts, damaged down by most closely fits for Landing Tom.
The most effective match for Brady’s passing recreation (and Chris Ballard’s revenge): Indianapolis Colts
It’s not an ideal match, nevertheless it makes some sense.
The Colts may give Brady an offensive line Professional Soccer Focus ranked third-best within the NFL. Jack Doyle gained’t be confused for Rob Gronkowski, however he’s a Professional Bowl tight finish with a 73.Four profession catch proportion. Nyheim Hines, electrical as a punt returner, has 107 catches in his two seasons as a situational again. When Brady appears to be like to air it out, he’ll have T.Y. Hilton as his prime possibility.
This is able to all be a pleasant flip of occasions for Indianapolis basic supervisor Chris Ballard. Again in February 2018, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels agreed to grow to be head coach of the Colts. However earlier than he may signal that deal — and, famously, after the Colts had tweeted it out — McDaniels reneged on his settlement and determined to maintain his outdated job in New England.
Convincing Brady to complete out his profession carrying Peyton Manning’s outdated shoulder stripes can be a fairly good heckle on New England. It’s not utterly out of the realm of chance, both.
Indianapolis could also be out there for a quarterback. Jacoby Brissett struggled late within the season after struggling a knee harm in Week 8. That turned a 5-2 begin right into a 7-9 end and a spot exterior the playoffs.
Bringing Brady to the AFC South would additionally unite him together with his former backups in Brissett and Brian Hoyer. The Colts have a restricted receiving corps, but in addition have greater than $86 million in wage cap area to spend this offseason. They might throw cash at A.J. Inexperienced to affix Hilton in an all-initials receiving corps or use their strong draft place to take a crack at one of many deepest influxes of wideout expertise in years.
If Ballard needs to make Brady a precedence, there’s loads he may provide.
Likelihood it occurs: 1/10
Indianapolis Colts QB Brady looks like the quickest approach to piss off two totally different fanbases. It additionally feels like a reputable risk to drive the Patriots into investing closely of their veteran quarterback and his vast receivers and tight ends this spring.
The most effective group that can provide him big-play wideouts: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brady nonetheless needs to throw deep balls. The query is, ought to he? He’s solely accomplished 37 % of passes of at the very least 20+ yards over the past three seasons. Whereas a few of these incompletions will be defined away by an underwhelming receiving corps, the reality is that Brady misses plenty of deep throws.
He most likely wouldn’t have anybody like Randy Moss or Gronkowski if he returned to the Patriots, however there’s one QB-needy group that may bolster him with a prime wideout tandem. The Buccaneers are at present out there for a quarterback with Jameis Winston set to hit free company. A transfer to Tampa would pair Brady with discipline stretcher Mike Evans and budding star Chris Godwin, whose 1,333 receiving yards have been third-most within the NFL in 2019.
These dynamos may assist fill within the hole between any waning accuracy and Brady’s historically strong numbers. As an alternative of placing a ball in a decent window for Gronkowski to innately snatch, he may flip to the 6’5 Evans, who’s equally masterful at utilizing his measurement and size to defend the ball from defensive backs. If he wants a sure-handed goal on the sticks on third down, he’d have Godwin, who dropped simply one of many 88 catchable passes thrown his means.
The Buccaneers function behind an explosive passing recreation and a head coach (Bruce Arians) identified for getting probably the most out of his quarterbacks. Brady would supply Tampa Bay with a prolific, if diminished, passer who can present what the Bucs are able to behind a quarterback who doesn’t flip the ball over twice per recreation.
Likelihood it occurs: 2/10
Brady would get two good receivers and a coach who may assist restore his brilliance in Tampa. He’d even have a protection that ranked 29th in factors allowed due to an terrible turnover differential however fifth in Soccer Outsiders’ defensive effectivity metric. Consider practically $85 million in cap area this offseason and there’s loads to love from Brady’s vantage level. So far as suitors go, although, the Bucs might not measure up.
The most effective group to supply him one thing he really hasn’t had: Carolina Panthers
David Tepper assumed possession of the Panthers in 2018 and oversaw a quiet transition … till 2019. That’s when he fired longtime head coach Ron Rivera, launched veteran tight finish Greg Olsen, and threw oodles of cash in school sideline standouts Matt Rhule and Joe Brady.
Tepper’s subsequent splash might be to rent a person whose work he is aware of nicely. As a local of Pittsburgh and former minority proprietor of the Steelers, Tepper’s seen the Patriots finish his hometown group’s postseason hopes within the AFC title recreation three separate occasions. Transplanting Brady from New England to Carolina can be his greatest transfer but.
The primary issue that would swing Brady south — in addition to a giant chunk of money made doable by the $20 million in wage cap financial savings the Panthers would acquire by releasing Cam Newton — can be Christian McCaffrey. The All-Professional runner/receiver can be probably the most full tailback Brady’s ever performed with in his 20+ years within the NFL.
McCaffrey is James White and an upgraded rookie-year Sony Michel multi functional. Having him on the sphere for all three downs would create a brand new stage of flexibility to the QB’s playbook, and his play-action passing would department out into extra choices than ever earlier than.
Likelihood it occurs: 2/10
The Panthers’ offensive line and its 8.Four % sack price aren’t precisely conducive to a 43-year-old quarterback. Carolina must make different upgrades to make Charlotte one among Brady’s most popular locations.
The most effective place to take yet another swipe at Philip Rivers’ legacy: Los Angeles Chargers
Rivers noticed his season finish due to Brady’s Patriots 3 times in his 16 seasons. He and the Chargers parted methods earlier than the 17th.
Brady may take the reins for a group only one yr faraway from a 12-win season. He’d have one of many league’s prime receiving backs ought to the membership retain restricted free agent Austin Ekeler, in addition to a dynamite deep risk in Keenan Allen. The Chargers may additionally use the franchise tag to maintain tight finish Hunter Henry on the town to be Gronk Lite for the quadragenarian QB. Whereas Los Angeles’ offensive line hasn’t earned a lot hype, it allowed Rivers — a participant roughly as mobile as Brady — to be sacked on simply 5.Four % of his dropbacks in 2019.
A transfer throughout the AFC wouldn’t simply give the Chargers a headliner to open their new, shared stadium in LA. It might additionally deliver Brady again to his California roots. He grew up in San Mateo, some 360 miles north of Los Angeles, however Hollywood may make plenty of sense for the world’s most recognizable soccer participant, his supermodel spouse, and the kids he threw right into a Fb actuality present in 2018.
Really, you recognize what? Maintain that thought.
Likelihood it occurs: 3/10
This feels much less soiled than seeing Brady in a Colts helmet, however the Chargers’ restricted protection and up to date failures might be an issue.
The most effective hometown possibility: San Francisco 49ers
If basic supervisor John Lynch thinks he’s seen the most effective of Jimmy Garoppolo already, he can commerce away his quarterback whereas consuming simply $4.2 million in useless cap area this offseason. That will clear greater than $22 million in room to deliver Brady to the franchise he grew up cheering for. Need to get bizarre? THIS can be bizarre.
And doubtless fairly silly from the Niners.
Likelihood it occurs: 0.25/10
Garoppolo was 10 minutes away from a Tremendous Bowl MVP. Brady isn’t any assured improve at age 43. This is able to be one hell of a swing from Lynch, who has principally made the appropriate strikes after graduating to the Niners’ entrance workplace in 2017. There’s virtually no means this occurs, however pricey god, think about if it did.
The most effective match as a result of, come on, what are we even doing right here?: New England Patriots
The storybook ending is for Invoice Belichick and Brady to exit collectively, holding ring-clad fingers (metaphorically) and turning into the sundown. That’s at all times been the plan.
If New England is prepared to pay, free company ought to simply be a formality for Brady — a short Rumspringa earlier than returning to his hardworking, strawberry-free roots. Right here’s what the Patriots can provide him:
- his finest shot at successful a Tremendous Bowl in 2021
- the most effective head coach within the recreation
- an offensive line that’s allowed him to be sacked solely 49 occasions the previous two seasons (36 video games, together with the playoffs) — and one that ought to get middle David Andrews again within the lineup after lacking all of 2019 resulting from blood clots
- the league’s prime protection, even when a number of key items (Kyle Van Noy, Devin McCourty, and many others.) are set to be free brokers
- the possibility to complete out his profession having performed for just one NFL franchise.
Re-signing Brady might make it tough to carve out the room wanted to get receiver and tight finish assist, however that group might be improved with the expansion of 2019 first-round choose N’Keal Harry and midseason addition Mohamed Sanu’s elevated familiarity with the Patriot offense. Even when there are nonetheless loads of inquiries to reply in New England, there’s loads the Pats have going for them that different groups don’t.
Likelihood it occurs: 8/10
There’s just one place Brady belongs, and it’s within the heat, Twisted Tea-smelling bosom of screaming Boston followers.