Nineteen New England Patriots players are set to hit free agency when the NFL league year opens March 18. As that date approaches, we’re taking a closer look at each one.
Our final entry: quarterback Tom Brady.
2019 STATS: 60.8 percent completion percentage, 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 6.6 yards per attempt, 88.0 passer rating
LIKELIHOOD OF RETURN: ???
ANALYSIS: Assuming that 1) Brady and the Patriots do not come to terms on a new contract, and 2) the NFL does not delay the start of the new league year amid the COVID-19 pandemic that’s already resulted in the suspension of nearly every pro sports league, the six-time Super Bowl champion will, for the first time in his storied career, be free to sign with any team next Wednesday.
And with just three days left before the legal tampering period opens, Brady’s leanings remain a mystery. Some insiders, including ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, are fully convinced he’s leaving. Others insist he has yet to decide either way.
As we await Brady’s final decision, here’s the latest on each of his rumored suitors (odds via BetOnline.ag):
TENNESSEE TITANS (5-1)
Mike Vrabel’s Titans have been viewed as a front-runner to land Brady, and we should know soon whether or not they’ll be in the running. The franchise tag deadline currently is set for Monday at 11:59:59 a.m. ET — one second before the tampering period begins. If the Titans tag quarterback Ryan Tannehill, they’re almost certainly out on Brady. If they don’t, they’re all in.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-1)
The Chargers desperately need to boost interest and ticket sales ahead of their move to sparking new SoFi Stadium, and Tyrod Taylor currently is occupying the top slot on their depth chart. Brady, who just launched a Hollywood production company, doesn’t have any connection to Chargers coach Anthony Lynn or offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, but Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco said they’d be willing to tweak their offense to suit their new QB’s needs/desires. Pursuing Brady seems like an obvious move for LA.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (6-1)
Another team that could use some buzz as it packs up and heads to a new stadium (and city), the Raiders have left the door open for Brady to snatch Derek Carr’s seat. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock both have praised Carr — who posted career highs in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating this season — but Mayock acknowledged the team could replace him if a better option comes along.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (10-1)
Would the 49ers really give up on Jimmy Garoppolo mere months after he quarterbacked them to the Super Bowl? Probably not. But Brady-to-San Francisco rumors have gained steam in recent weeks, and the Niners would be the strongest contender if they did choose to enter the battle for the Bay Area native’s services. This scenario also raises the possibility of Garoppolo returning to New England, making it by far the most fascinating.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (12-1)
The phrase “all in” was used this week to describe the Bucs’ fierce interest in Brady. Bruce Arians made his affinity for the soon-to-be 43-year-old clear during the NFL Scouting Combine, and he’s willing to give Brady more or less whatever he wants in order to lure him central Florida, according to report from Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay boasts top-tier offensive weapons and a ton of salary cap space. But would Brady have any interest in playing there?
Previously: Adam Butler | Jermaine Eluemunor | Marshall Newhouse | James Ferentz | Phillip Dorsett | Shilique Calhoun | Nate Ebner | Nick Folk | Elandon Roberts | Danny Shelton | Matthew Slater | Ted Karras | Jamie Collins | Kyle Van Noy | Devin McCourty | Joe Thuney
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images