Neither Stephen A. Smith nor Max Kellerman believes Tom Brady will return to the New England Patriots next season.
Kellerman reiterated Monday on ESPN’s “First Take” that he thinks Brady, a free agent, will sign with the Los Angeles Chargers, who boast a talented roster yet could need a quarterback with Philip Rivers also set to hit the open market.
Smith, meanwhile, pointed to the Tennessee Titans as a potential landing spot, which would be an interesting turn of events after New England’s wild-card round loss to Mike Vrabel’s squad earlier this month. Both Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota are on the cusp of free agency, too, leaving Tennessee with an opening at quarterback.
“According to some article I think I read on NFL.com, (the Titans have) about 60.1 million (dollars) in projected cap space, but they’ve got a slew of people that they need to spend that money on with some longer-term commitments,” Smith said. “Tom Brady is not somebody that you’re gonna commit to long term at the age of 42. But here’s the other big reason: First of all, A.J. Brown is a stud — he’s just a rookie, we know what time it is with him. We know what a stud the NFL’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry is and how that takes some of the pressure off of Tom Brady. He’s never had a running game like that. We also gotta take into account what Tom Brady has endured in terms of working for (Bill) Belichick, and no matter what he has accomplished and no matter what he has done, Belichick is known for being incredibly pragmatic in his approach towards things. He never really took care of Tom Brady, wasn’t trying to, etc. A guy like Mike Vrabel is a former teammate of Tom Brady’s, somebody who dare I say would have more of an appreciation for the greatness that Tom Brady has spent years putting on display.
“If you’re talking about a swan song, if you’re talking about the twilight of your career ending in an ideal circumstance, what better way can it be than staying in the same conference, playing for a guy who is a friend who’s incredibly familiar with what you do, what you bring to the table, especially when you have weapons.”
Tannehill was excellent this season after replacing Mariota, so one could argue the Titans actually would be better off spending their money internally than pursuing Brady, who showed regression in 2019 at age 42.
Then again, Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion, is the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and many of the Patriots’ offensive problems this past season stemmed from their lack of weapons, an inconsistent rushing attack and shoddy offensive line play. The Titans might be able to supply Brady with a better supporting cast and, in effect, a better shot at winning a seventh Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots have many personnel decisions to make beyond Brady.
” … If Tom Brady was quarterbacking (the Titans in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs), what did they do? They’re gonna stack the box, they’re gonna dare you to beat ’em,” Smith said. “If you’ve got receivers who can get open, Tom Brady could do some things for you. If you’ve got a running game that can distract, Tom Brady can do some things for you.”
Brady acknowledged Sunday he’s “open-minded” about his future, which certainly leaves the door open for his departure from New England after spending his first 20 NFL seasons with the Patriots. It could be an attempt to gain leverage in his negotiations with the Pats after years of accepting team-friendly contracts, or maybe TB12 really is thinking about taking his talents elsewhere for the 2020 campaign.