Tom Brady is easily the most covered athlete in the NFL right now. Considering he’s won six championships, and has led the Patriots to a winning record every year since 2001. The man is going to be 43 by the start of next season, and he’s hit the free agent market for the first time in his career.
The long time Patriot QB has said before he wants to play until he’s 45 years old. An incredible goal, and considering the way he’s played throughout his career, it’s hard to imagine him not accomplishing this feat. However, age does become a factor, especially in the NFL. We’ve seen some Hall of Fame QB’s abilities drop considerably once they hit the back end of their careers, those including Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning. So with signing Brady, there’s a risk factor involved strictly because of his age. We just don’t know if he’ll still be able to compete like he has before or not. The answer to that won’t be answered until the 2020 NFL season. Also factor in that Brady is projected to sign a 2 year $67.8 million dollar contract (according to Spotrac). Tom Brady becomes a high risk high reward scenario for any team in the NFL.
Now, obviously, there’s a lot of teams that are interested in signing the future Hall of Famer onto their roster but who are the serious contenders? According to the FoxBet website on March 6th, 2020, there are five teams that have the best odds of signing Tom Brady. Those teams being, the Patriots, Titans, Raiders, Chargers, and the Colts. Let’s take a look at Brady’s impact for each of these five teams, and what each team would have to do in order to be serious contenders next season.
New England Patriots
So, as of right now, the Patriots are the favored team to sign Brady. And why wouldn’t he come back? 20 long dominating years with the same head coach. The Patriots are one of the best teams in building a roster, and maintaining their finances. Bill Belichick is still the coach, and if he wants to, he can keep coaching for a long time. Belichick leaving the Patriots any time soon just isn’t realistic. With that in mind, I think it would be wise for Coach Belichick to keep his franchise QB for another two years while he finds a predecessor. With Brady back, and an offseason to gather more offensive weapons, it’s more than likely the Patriots could make another run at the super bowl, while they rebuild simultaneously.
In order for Brady to come back though, he’s gonna need help. The defense was one of the best in the league in the 2019 season, and should be just as dominate next year too. But for the Patriots to win another super bowl next year, they HAVE to acquire more talented skills players. Luckily for the Patriots, there are plenty of WRs available in this years draft. I don’t think they’ll be able to draft guys like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, but they could draft someone like Henry Ruggs III or Laviska Shenault Jr. to boost their WR group. There’s also the rumor swirling of Brady’s continued contact with WR Antonio Brown, as Brown claims Brady has told him he wants him on his team, wherever that may be. The New England Patriots are truthfully, the only franchise I can even imagine following through on signing both Brady and Brown.
After watching 20, long years of the Patriots dominance amongst the NFL, the Patriots can easily entice Brady to re-join them for one (technically two) more hoorah before his retirement. Give him his weapons and the Patriots are right back where they never left… The playoffs.
The odds of the Titans signing Brady has slowly, but steadily, gone up every week. And really it makes a ton of sense as to why he would join them. They have a strong offensive line (especially if RT Jack Conklin re-signs), he’d be paired up with arguably the best RB in the league in Derrick Henry, big time playmakers like AJ Brown and Jonnu Smith, possession receivers in Corey Davis and Adam Humphries, as well as one of the top defenses in the league (still need an edge rusher though, but that’s a different conversation for another time). Not to mention, the Titans have a ton of Patriots ties within the front office, coaching staff, and the roster.
With all of that in place, how are the Titans not the favorite, right? Really the only thing stopping the Titans is their cap space, or lack there of. Sure, they can easily afford Tom Brady if they want to go ahead and sign him for the next two years. But how much would they have left over? They still need to re-sign Henry, figure out if they want to keep Jack Conklin or not, and still find a dominant edge rusher to finally fix that hole. From the outside looking in, Tom Brady makes a ton of sense for the Titans. But signing him could mean the Titans lose out on other assets that could be equally as important.
When it comes down to it, the Titans are looking at Tom Brady or Ryan Tannehill as their starting QB next year. I foresee the front office choosing the cheaper option, as they’re going to need as much wiggle room as possible to make a play at other high profile players like Jadeveon Clowney, who would increase the Titans defense tremendously. But if the Titans choose Tom Brady over Tannehill, I would expect the Titans to still make another deep run in the playoffs, despite losing out on one of the other assets.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders will officially be in Vegas next year, and with being in such a flashy town, they’re going to want to make some splashy moves in the offseason. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock made some big moves last year, trading for Antonio Brown (we all know how that went), and drafting good players that have the potential to really put this Raiders team back in the playoffs. So the coaching staff and front office are not afraid to pull the trigger for big name players. The Raiders were also one of the first teams that publicly announced their interest in Tom Brady.
As for the roster, the Raiders aren’t too far off from having a scary good team. Their offensive line showed massive improvements in comparison to 2018. And Josh Jacobs looks like he has the potential to be a top RB in the league one day. If the Raiders really want Brady, they’re going to have to pick up some WR’s, as Derek Carr had Darren Waller as his top receiving option. There’s plenty of WR talent in the NFL draft this year, and the Raiders have two 1st round picks, zero 2nd round picks, and three 3rd round picks. They really need help with defense, but if Brady decides to sign with them, they’ll have to acquire another weapon for Brady to throw to.
Obviously the Raiders want Brady in Vegas, but I think what keeps him from going their is the amount of assets they’ll have to acquire to make it more enticing for Tom. They need one or two WR’s, and they really need to bulk up that defense. According to Spotrac, the Raiders have just over $51 million in cap space available to play with. So they can afford Brady, but can they afford Brady along with other guys that can push their defense into the top ten? I think it’s unlikely. However, if Brady does sign with Las Vegas, I think they’d be pushing for a wildcard spot, as it’s going to take a lot for this Raiders team to surpass the Chiefs.
Los Angeles Chargers
Since being in LA, the Chargers haven’t seemed to find their fan base. I know a lot of Chargers fans in San Diego abandoned the team once they moved north to LA, and the city of Angeles seems to like the Rams a bit more. Having said that, the Chargers are still in Los Angeles, which is one of the biggest markets in the sporting world. If the Chargers can find some superstar talent on the offensive side of the ball (winning helps too), the Chargers could suddenly make some big time money in LA. So why not go for Brady? He’s the biggest name in football right now, and they have the 5th overall pick in the upcoming draft. The Chargers could really set themselves up for big time future success by drafting a QB with that pick, and simultaneously be in a win now situation by signing Brady.
The signing makes sense, as Brady’s family reportedly lives in LA during the offseason, as Tom was also born and raised in Southern California. The team also has the offensive weapons available for Tom to win right now, as Keenan Allen is still a top target in the NFL, Mike Williams has been progressing nicely for them, and Hunter Henry is a great TE option. In addition to that, the Chargers just re-signed Austin Ekeler (best receiving RB in the league) to a 4 year deal. The defense isn’t half bad either, as the Chargers have a bunch of young talent that should take another step forward in their development in 2020. The only thing stopping the Chargers from signing Tom is their offensive line struggles.
The Chargers offensive line has been near the bottom of the NFL for the past few seasons. It was painstakingly clear they couldn’t protect Philip Rivers, which played a huge role in the team only winning 5 games last year. The Chargers have made a trade though, with the Carolina Panthers, receiving Trai Turner and dishing away Russel Okung, who has been hit with injuries for the last couple seasons. The trade is a head scratcher for the Panthers, but the Chargers made a huge leap grabbing the 5x pro bowler to strengthen the Guard position, which is a step forward in rebuilding their O-line. But it’s going to take a bit more than that to turn this offensive line around. Sure, they could sign a big name player in free agency and use the draft to find young talent. But I don’t know if this offseason is enough time for them to make a complete 180 on their O-line struggles. But if the Chargers acquire the GOAT, I actually like their playoff chances more than the Raiders in 2020.
The Colts are one of the more intriguing matches for Brady, as you can argue Indianapolis would’ve been a playoff team if their Luck didn’t run out (see what I did there?). The Colts easily have one of the best offensive lines in football, and their defense is right in the middle of the pack. Not to mention, Frank Reich, so far, seems to be a great head coach for this squad. Where the struggles lie for the Colts is the WR position. The group was riddled with injuries all season long, and Jacoby, albeit playing decent, isn’t the most accurate passer in the NFL. I truly believe the Colts would have been a much more dangerous team if Andrew Luck had been under center during 2020.
Despite the Colts being unLucky, they have a lot going for them heading into free agency. The Colts have over $86 million in cap space, giving them more available money than any of the other teams on this list. The Colts can essentially sign whoever they want, meaning they can sign Brady, as well as offensive and defensive weapons to bulk up the roster. They also have the 13th overall pick in the NFL Draft this year, which is a prime spot for them to draft one of the top caliber WRs available in the draft. Can you imagine Brady throwing to TY Hilton and someone like CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy? With the team so close to having everything put together, why are the Colts the least likely option (of the teams on this list) to be Brady’s destination? The only answer I can think of, is the location, and the lack of Patriots ties within the organization.
I mean, think about it. He’s been on the Patriots his entire career, one of his best friends is the head coach in Tennessee, the Raiders expressed interest immediately, and the Chargers are in Southern California where Brady already lives. Sure, Indianapolis is a great football franchise and has a history of winning, especially in comparison to the rest of the AFC South. But when it comes down to it, I just don’t think Brady has any interest to play in Indy. If he were to sign with the Colts, they’d automatically become the favorite in the AFC South, and I think they’d at least make a deep playoff run. But with no familiarity for Tom Brady at all, it’ll be difficult for the front office to convince Brady to sign with them.