For the first time in his unrivaled NFL career, Tom Brady will have an opportunity to sign with whichever team he pleases when his New England Patriots contract expires in March.
If the 42-year-old quarterback opts to leave New England, where might he fit? With the start of free agency still more than two months away, we’re taking a team-by-team look at some potential landing spots for the future Hall of Famer.
Next up: the Denver Broncos.
WHY IT MAKES SENSE
It worked for Peyton Manning, didn’t it? This Broncos team isn’t as talented offensively or defensively as the one Manning joined in 2012, but it boasts a few exciting young players at wide receiver (Courtland Sutton), running back (Phillip Lindsay) and tight end (Noah Fant) and a D that allowed the 10th-fewest points in the NFL this season.
Team owner John Elway has roughly $60 million in salary cap space to play with this offseason, according to Spotrac, and has long been infatuated with prototypical pocket passers like Brady.
Denver did go 4-1 down the stretch this season after turning the reins over to rookie Drew Lock, and the second-round draft pick played well (seven touchdowns, three interceptions, 89.7 passer rating), but not so well that Elway should ignore a potential upgrade this offseason. Bringing in Brady for a year or two while Lock continues to develop wouldn’t be the worst plan.
WHY IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE
The Broncos went 13-3 in Manning’s first season with the team and reached the Super Bowl in his second. This current Denver squad has potential, but it’s tough to see it making that sort of leap, especially with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs residing in the same division. (Kansas City has reeled off nine consecutive wins against Denver and outscored its AFC West rivals 53-9 in two meetings this season.)
Brady also has no prior relationship with Broncos boss Vic Fangio, who just completed his first season as a head coach at age 61, or his newly hired offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, who comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree.
Would Brady, with the end of his career on the horizon, join a team that didn’t have a strong chance of immediately contending for a championship? And would he even want to live in Denver, which lacks the major-market appeal of a place like Los Angeles or Chicago?
And, from the Broncos’ perspective, would Elway want to risk stunting Lock’s growth by replacing him with an aging QB who’s coming off one of his worst statistical seasons? Overall, it’s not a great fit.
A move to Mile High paid off for Manning. But we can’t see Brady following that same path.