Some might argue Tom Brady’s success with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a knock against Bill Belichick’s legacy with the New England Patriots.
Well, imagine if the Patriots actually moved on from Brady when Belichick envisioned.
That, Colin Cowherd argued Thursday on FS1, would have been really damaging.
“Had (Patriots owner Robert Kraft) not stepped in, and Belichick moved off Brady in 2015-2016, and Tom goes somewhere and has this success for 10 years … I think we’d view Belichick differently,” Cowherd said. “We’d look at him as really lucky to have Tom and a crazy, silly old man. I think we would look at him differently: ‘You let go of Tom with nine years left. How can you whiff that badly?’ Now, I think we go, ‘greatest coach, greatest quarterback, hey, you’ve got to move off all these guys eventually.’ “
The Patriots, of course, drafted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014, presumably with an eye toward him being Brady’s successor in New England. Brady continued to fend off Father Time, however, paving the way for the Patriots to trade Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.
Reports have indicated that Belichick didn’t want to trade Garoppolo, instead preferring to keep the much younger QB while moving on from Brady. But Kraft reportedly intervened, keeping Brady in New England for two more years after the Garoppolo trade, and the franchise benefitted greatly, winning a Super Bowl title to cap the 2018 season. New England previously secured two rings with Garoppolo as its backup.
“Brady should thank his lucky stars that Kraft, the global visionary, stepped in and said, ‘Nah, I think we’ve got the right guy. Let’s keep him for about five more years,’ ” Cowherd explained. “Because I don’t think we’d look at Bill the same. If Brady had gone somewhere in 2016 and chopped it up until now, and is still the greatest, Belichick would look more like a silly old man — like a silly old, outdated man — who didn’t even know the future of his best player.”
Brady, who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title last season, his first with the organization, has shown no signs of slowing down in his age-44 campaign. Some next-gen stats paint him in a very positive light, and, most importantly, Tampa Bay still is winning football games.
It’s a tough pill for the Patriots to swallow, obviously, even though rookie quarterback Mac Jones has looked like a worthy heir to the greatest QB in NFL history. But it would’ve been even tougher to swallow had Brady left in 2015 or 2016, with even more left in the tank despite Belichick’s apparent evaluation.
“It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to Belichick’s legacy,” Cowherd said Thursday of Kraft stepping in to make sure the Patriots kept Brady instead of Garoppolo.