After NFL legend Tom Brady confirmed his departure from the New England Patriots, Ross Williams looks at the contenders to sign arguably the greatest player of all time.
For many long-time fans of the NFL, the very idea of Tom Brady taking to the field in something other than the blue and silver of the New England Patriots is downright bizarre.
The veteran quarterback is the face of the sport. Loved by many, and loathed by many more, Brady’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary. From the humblest of beginnings – the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft – to the very summit of the sporting world, ‘Tom Terrific’ really has done it all.
Perhaps the most impressive thing though, is the fact that Tom Brady’s illustrious 20-year career has never taken him beyond Gillette Stadium and the Patriots franchise that views him as their king. Until, that is, Brady confirmed he would leave New England for pastures new this summer.
The betting suggests it's a straight fight between the Los Angeles Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign the living legend, but could he spring a surprise?
Tom Brady’s team for Week 1 of new season
- 4/11 Buccaneers
- 9/4 Chargers
- 6/1 Raiders
- 8/1 Colts
- 10/1 Dolphins
Brady was New England’s Joe Montana – the man who led the San Francisco 49ers to immortality and cemented his position as of the greatest to ever do it. Much like Montana, Brady is also now considered perhaps the greatest of all time, and certainly the greatest that has ever played a down in Foxboro’.
Despite earning legendary status in the Bay Area, eventually, even Joe Montana moved on, and now Brady has followed suit.
Now, in the heat of the most unpredictable NFL off-season in recent memory, Tom Brady has the opportunity to finally look out into the wide world that he has dominated for the past two decades, and choose a new challenge.
When the rumours began swirling that Brady would indeed become a free agent this spring, the sweepstakes were loaded with options. Who wouldn’t want a six-time Super Bowl champion on their roster, after all?
Now his departure is confirmed, and the dust has settled somewhat, the potential landing spots for Brady have become a lot more concise with two real contenders apparent in the betting.
New England had drifted in the betting market recently as it became clear that no one was particularly confident that Brady’s familiarity with home would shine through when all is said and done. As things stand, the Patriots have not signed a replacement quarterback, and the jury is out on whether 23-year-old Jarrett Stidham will be the answer.
The newly-relocated Las Vegas Raiders had been linked early on, while the Los Angeles Chargers remain in the mix for one major reason, Brady does make sense for both teams, and that reason is bums-on-seats.
Since leaving their San Diego home, Chargers fans have been largely outnumbered in their home stadium by rival supporters (practically unheard of in American sports) and the franchise has been left to play second fiddle to the Rams, who were of course helped by a recent Super Bowl run.
Bringing in a blockbuster name like Brady to lead the team over the next two seasons would do wonders for the franchise commercially, and may even put the team in a position to win and go on a long-awaited play-off run. Philip Rivers has also been jettisoned of course, and the likelihood is that the Chargers will pick up a quarterback in this year’s Draft.
Who better for a young quarterback to learn under than Tom Brady? Just ask Jimmy Garappolo. The Chargers certainly seem like a good shout, yet they're outsiders of two main contenders.
The Raiders are the ultimate in big-name destinations, and they'd be eager to add a big name to kick-start their new era. Brady’s name was in the conversation for a while, but ultimately it’s now difficult to see Black and Silver in Tom’s future. Although Jon Gruden hasn’t exactly hitched his wagon to Derek Carr in the last year, it’s highly likely that the quarterback will get at least one last opportunity to prove his worth as a Raider.
Marcus Mariota is now heading to Las Vegas, in a move that suggests he will be put in a position to challenge Carr for the starting job as we head into the 2020 season. Could there be room for one more signal-caller in that quarterback room? Maybe, but it’s now very unlikely.
This leaves one final option for Brady, and it’s one that has come from nowhere in the last week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be the most fashionable franchise in the NFL but, all of a sudden, they have become the favourites (4/11) to land the league’s biggest free agent in recent memory.
Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions last season – paired with his apparent contract demands – appear to have knocked him out of the discussion in Tampa. As of Monday afternoon, Winston became a free agent, leaving a big hole in what is otherwise a handy offensive unit in Florida.
Tampa Bay run a quarterback-friendly system under head coach Bruce Arians, they have the cap room to pay Brady handsomely for his services and they bring two explosive receiving options to the party in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The idea of Tom Brady wearing Buccaneer Red next season is mind-blowing though to many, but the same was said when Joe Montana headed to Kansas City, and Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl in Denver.
It’s strange, but do not rule it out.
Odds correct as of 1323 GMT on 17/3/20
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