For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady will play for a team other than the New England Patriots.
The 42-year-old quarterback will get a fresh start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 after watching his numbers slip over the last two seasons. But the Bucs picked up on something rather important while scouting the seasoned veteran, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
“How did the scouts see Brady? They went back a couple years to trace regression in Brady’s arm strength, and didn’t see a discernible difference in that department in 2019, as compared to ’17 or ’18,” Breer wrote. “He was still poised and patient and had great feel in the pocket. In fact, if one thing stuck out, and (Bucs general manager Jason) Licht did two tours as a New England personnel man, it was that what Brady was running, because of attrition around him, didn’t look like the Patriots’ offense.
“That made it a little bit of a tougher evaluation. Still, it stood out that New England was producing despite all that — and showed that Brady remained capable of elevating his teammates to the point where an undermanned unit ranked 15th in total offense and seventh in scoring. And while Licht doubted Brady would make it to the market (Arians was more optimistic on that all along), there was resolve in the front office that the Patriots’ QB could still play.
But that’s not the only thing Licht noticed while scouting Brady.
“… He also saw where Brady was being held back. The feeling was that with more speed and explosiveness around him — which the Bucs could give him with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and Cam Brate — Brady wouldn’t be forced to hold the ball like he had his last year in New England, where he had slower skill position talent on hand.”
Interesting, and not wrong.
Brady certainly lacked offensive weapons in the last few years, especially after losing players like Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola (and several others) in a matter of two years. Though Brady managed to claim his sixth title with limited options in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams, his situation in Tampa Bay looks much brighter with players like Evans, Godwin, Howard and Brate at his disposal.
We’ll see if Licht’s instincts are right, however, when the 2020 season commences in September (hopefully).
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images