Jerry penned a great blog on the thought of Tom Brady returning to New England after this season yesterday. And it's certainly a hot topic based on The Athletic article mentioning that could be a possible reunion. With his marriage ending, the notion of Brady continuing to play more seasons is picking up steam. He'll will be a free agent after the season and the Patriots do have a lot of cap room, but does it actually make sense?
When Brady left New England after the 2019 season, he made a list of things he'd want from the new team. That list included: warm weather citing he was sick of the cold weather, a close enough to his son Jack, who lives in NY OR out west near his folks, a 2-year deal at a reasonable sum, and a team that was good, but had a coach that valued collaboration.
- New England is very cold and he knows it. After playing in a warm weather city like Tampa, I can't see him wanting to go back to Massachusetts.
- It is close enough to NY, moreso than almost any other location, so point Pats there. *It was stated on the west coast, close to his parents would be a good alternative to this one.
- Contract also works as the Pats have a ton of cap room next year.
- A coach who values collaboration. Now what we know is that he wanted to add that to the list because he wasn't feeling a lot of collaboration like before. Has Bill Belichick changed that much? Doesn't seem like it. Not only that, but did you see what the Patriots actually looked like last night? No, Mac Jones isn't super mobile, but neither is Tom Brady! The Bucs haven't been lighting up the scoreboard this year, but they at least have dudes! Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker ain't exactly luring premium free agents with their skill set. At the QB position, Mac Jones is under contract for two more seasons with cap hits of $4.25M and $4.96M, which is extremely reasonable, but Dave is already on record saying he'd rather have Mac!
He not only doubled down on it this week.
He tripled down on it.
Imagine picking Mac Jones over this guy?!
And for everybody not paying super close attention to the Bucs this year, Tom Brady can still sling it. He's on pace for 4,715 passing yards, 22 TDs and just 3 INTs.
So I'll give the Pats two of the four requirements, assuming they stay the same or similar from 2020. Looking at teams across the league, I'd paint the 49ers as the most likely destination as they would check off all four of the boxes with Kyle Shanahan definitely being a more new age coach who takes input from players. That is also the only roster that is good enough right now. Per OverTheCap.com, the 49ers have $14.5M in cap room for next year, which could certainly grow, and Jimmy G is a free agent after this year. They of course have Trey Lance, but he doesn't appear to be on the same timeline as their roster which is ready to win now.
The other potential dark horse - Tennessee. The only hurdle is that they signed Ryan Tannehill still has another year on his 4-year $118M deal he signed in 2020. The Titans do have an out, but it would result in $18.M of dead cap for 2023. They are also already $15.7M over the cap, but that can be finessed. Mike Vrabel obviously played with Brady and is a close friend of his, so this makes sense on a bunch of levels. But talent wise? Going from Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, Julio Jones etc. to a soon-to-be 29-year old Derrick Henry, a declining Robert Woods, and Treylon Burks? Seems like a stretch there.
All that being said, he could still return to Tampa after this season. While they haven't put it all together this year, they still have a ton of dudes on the roster, but this year has been snakebit so far with injuries with guys like Ryan Jensen, Tristan Wirfs, Julio Jones, Leonard Fournette and more missing games. This Monday Night they'll have Donovan Smith starting at Left Tackle and four different starters across the Offensive Line than lined up vs. their 2021 team. If he does stay, I do expect changes to be made. His old Offensive Coordinator, Bill O'Brien's name has been brought up as a potential return to the NFL, and I wouldn't be surprised to see wherever he goes to be linked to Brady. Hopefully for me and Bucs fans everywhere, he'll stick in Tampa.
But however the rest of this season plays out, I'll certainly be interested to see what happens with Tom Brady once it's over. Whatever he decides will drastically alter the NFL landscape yet again.