We had to get here eventually. As soon as it became a possibility that the greatest quarterback of all time was looking to test free agency for the first time in his career, you had to know we were going to include him in our free agent spotlight series.
The Buccaneers have a decision to make at quarterback. That’s no secret. Jameis Winston could still be the future, but the team has made it clear that it wants to see what’s behind door No. 2. Believe it or not, Tom Brady could be behind door No. 2. Head coach Bruce Arians even mentioned him by name at the NFL Scouting Combine, despite the fact that he probably shouldn’t have.
So, what are the chances? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some believe Tampa Bay has a better chance to land Brady than others, but nonetheless, we’re going to do a deep dive into the G.O.A.T as a potential target in free agency.
TOM BRADY’S CAREER THUS FAR
Brady seemingly came out of nowhere. After playing his college ball at the University of Michigan, he was drafted in the sixth round (No. 199 overall) by the New England Patriots during the 2000 NFL Draft before quickly beginning his ascension to the top of the league. He took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe early in the 2001 season and all he did from there was lead the Patriots to an AFC East title and then a victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. He became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win Super Bowl MVP. And it wasn’t close to his last.
Over his 20 years with New England, Brady hasn’t had a losing season. He has led the Patriots to 17 AFC East championships, nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl victories. He is a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time NFL MVP and a four-time Super Bowl MVP. His stats are obviously impressive too. He has 74,571 passing yards and 541 passing touchdowns to 179 interceptions over his career, and that’s just the regular season. In the postseason, he has 11,388 passing yards and 73 passing touchdowns to 35 interceptions. Quarterback wins isn’t anything to put too much stock into, but his record jumps out at you anyway. He is 219-64 in the regular season and 30-11 in the playoffs.
His collection of impressive numbers and accolades doesn’t stop there, but the point has been made, no? He is the most decorated quarterback in the history of the league and despite being 42 years old, he is the hottest free agent on the market this offseason. With the shape he is in, he doesn’t look ready to slow down all that soon.
WHY IT WORKS
It seems silly to have to make the case for this. It’s Tom Brady—the greatest quarterback in the history of the game—and a Bucs team that doesn’t have its quarterback situation settled at the moment. But there are plenty of Jameis Winston fans—er, Bucs fans—that don’t like the idea of Tampa Bay bringing Brady on board. Those folks say he doesn’t have the same arm strength anymore, doesn’t fit Bruce Arians’ offense and is too old.
The simple answer to all of that is this: Bruce Arians himself said Brady is a guy they’d like to talk to. Yes, the man who designed the offense and taught his offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich, how to call plays for it is interested in Tom Brady. If you want to argue with Arians’ thoughts on who fits Arians’ offense, go right ahead. Plus, it’s hard to believe there wouldn’t be at least some tweaks to the system if necessary.
The fit shouldn’t be an issue, nor should the general principles of it all. Brady has had frustrations in the past with having a lack of weapons at his disposal. That wouldn’t be an issue with Tampa Bay. He would have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin—the best receiving duo in the NFL—to work with, as well as O.J. Howard and/or Cameron Brate. We know how much Brady loves throwing to big tight ends. Add Ronald Jones II and another draftee/free agent running back to the mix and you’ve got plenty of dangerous options to work with.
Oh, and as for the “he’ll get killed behind this offensive line” argument, Tampa Bay needs a right tackle. If they add a first-round right tackle or a proven veteran, that unit will be just fine. Plus, Brady can get the ball out quick. He’s not going to hold onto the ball as long as Winston did at times.
Simply put, it’s Tom Brady. He’ll make things work. And it’s Bruce Arians. He’s more than capable himself. A potential linkup between the two could be special enough to break the Bucs’ longggggg playoff drought.
Brady is 42 years old. He’ll turn 43 before Week 1 of the 2020 regular season. Of course, he does keep himself in immaculate shape (to the point where he doesn’t really seem human), but Father Time catches up to everyone sooner or later, right? Football is a physical game and it’s not common these days for guys to play well into their 40s. Drew Brees seemed to contemplate retirement this offseason and he’s just 41.
Brady will presumably be looking for a deal that has him playing through the age of 44 or 45. There has to be some risk there. Because there’s at least a possibility that Brady’s body starts to fail him as early as this season. If he doesn’t get the Bucs to the playoffs in 2020, doubt will suddenly creep in for the fan base and likely the organization itself, especially if the quarterback of the future is unclear. Giving up on a 26-year-old who still has plenty of promise to sign a soon-to-be 43-year-old to a short-term deal is a gamble. Even if the latter is the GOAT.
WHAT’S THE COST?
It’s Tom Brady. You know you’re going to have to pay up. Spotrac has his market value set at $33.8 million per year, projecting a two-year deal worth almost $68 million. Jameis Winston has been rumored to want $30 million or north of it. That leaves the Bucs with a decision. If they’re hypothetically forced to choose between just these two, do they pay out more than $30 million for a guy who, while he has his issues, is still young and has plenty of room to improve? Or do they go with the proven veteran who is near the end of his career? Either way, it feels like a risk. At that point, it’s just about which risk has the better upside.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
We certainly don’t have an idea as to whether or not Brady would even be interested in coming to Tampa. The weapons are here. The coaching staff is too. Of Brady’s potential options, Tampa Bay might be the most appealing roster-wise. But it’s the Bucs. This is Brady deciding where he wants to finish his career. Does he want to take the risk of going to an organization that, outside of a short stretch in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has largely been a disaster?
This is a team that hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2007. It hasn’t seen a playoff victory since it won the Super Bowl at the beginning of the century. Is that a situation Brady wants to walk into after 20 years of success in New England? Maybe he thinks he can right the ship and wants that notch on his belt. But maybe he’d be more comfortable taking his family out to Los Angeles. Or maybe it’s more appealing to go to Tennessee, where his friend is the head coach of a team that plays in an iffy division and just made the AFC Championship Game this past year. We don’t really know what—besides winning—is most important to Brady at this stage in his career.
MAKE THE DECISION
*Takes a deep breath* OK, Bucs Nation. Tom Brady may very well be the GOAT, but is he right for the Buccaneers in 2020? There’s a risk here, but what option out there doesn’t involve a risk? So, we ask you. Should the Bucs take this risk? Be sure to vote in the poll and discuss your thoughts in the comments down below.
When It Comes To Clayton Geathers, What Would You Have The Buccaneers Do?
This poll is closed
Sign Him, No Matter What
Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes From There
Call Him Up If They Have A Need After The Draft
Don’t Need Him