The 2020 NFL free agent signing period is less than a month away, Wednesday, March 18. You can’t turn on sports talk radio without hearing the speculation regarding the landing spot for, arguably, the highest profiled free agent ever, Tom Brady. Although Brady is in the twilight of his career there aren’t questions surrounding his health. Is the arm strength diminished? Perhaps. However, Brady is still more than a game manager. Additionally, what makes this free agency all the more intriguing is the fact that there are several quarterback-needy teams that will be in the market to upgrade the position. There are a few of which I think we can easily scratch off due to geographic location or team construction. However, I’m going to dive into what I think are the top five landing spots for the Tom Brady free agent market.
Tom Brady Free Agent Profile
First things first. We shouldn’t overlook Brady’s age and regression in 2019. Sure, he had the fewest weapons at his disposal in his career. However, father time remains undefeated, Brady’s completion rate dipped down to 60 percent and as did his quarterback rating, 88. These statistics aren’t alarmingly low. However, they are not his standard.
I do think that he will make whatever team he goes to better. Super Bowl-bound better? I wouldn’t bet against it. When thinking about destinations for Brady I’m going to take into account the way the team is constructed and location.
The Buccaneers seem to be a running game away from being serious challengers for the NFC South division. Also, just think what the addition of a quarterback that throws single-digit interceptions, eight, compared to 30 interceptions would do for a team the caliber of the Buccaneers. A Bruce Arians run offense just might be enough to intrigue Brady to consider Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have plenty of salary cap to maneuver to add, not only Brady but a running back. Perhaps Melvin Gordon. Then, all of a sudden, the Bucs are a serious threat to make a run at the Super Bowl. I haven’t even mentioned the weapons in the passing game in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman and tight ends, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.
One word. Legacy. That’s it. The opportunity to stay with one team for the entirety of a hall of fame career can not be discounted. However, the same message year after year can run dry. Not that the grass is always greener. It’s that sometimes players need a new piece of grass to play on. Yes, the AFC East is probably the most winnable division within the NFL and that carries weight. But, can the Patriots add a few more weapons to support Brady?
The Patriots finished the 2019 season going four and five. Is this a sign the direction this franchise is, finally, heading. The writing seems to be on the wall. This franchise is at the end of their dynasty run and will need to start, if not a full re-build, but a quasi re-build that could give Brady pause to re-signing.
The Titans came this close to advancing to the Super Bowl. Although Ryan Tannehill was outstanding, earning himself 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award, the Titans have a decision to make at the quarterback position. The can try to re-sign Tannehill, designate him for franchise tag or pursue Brady in free agency. The Titans already have one of the better offensive lines in football and talent at the receiver positions and a young talented tight end. There is familiarity with the coaching staff, as Brady played with head coach Mike Vrabel on Super Bowl-winning teams.
The other piece the Titans have to consider is Derrick Henry. Henry is a restricted free agent and signing him would go along way towards their ability to persuade Brady to move to Nashville. The Titans and Brady, on paper, seem to be a natural fit. And, while Tannehill had a magical run this past season. We saw that once the Titans fell behind the Chiefs, in the AFC Championship game, that the Tannehill just didn’t have the prowess in the passing game that it takes to keep a defense on its heels.
Each year the Chargers, on paper, are pegged to challenge for the AFC crown. And, each year they seem to come up short. Is that Philip Rivers‘ fault? Partially. Coaching? Maybe. And how can Chargers fans forget about missed field goals? However, this is a team with as much upside as any in the league. The wide receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are as good a duo that there is in the NFL. The running game with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson has proven effective, with or without Melvin Gordon. The Chargers will have to address the tight end position if Hunter Henry leaves in free agency. However, the offensive line is solid and the defense is good enough to keep them in every game. This is a team built for a run at the playoffs. Brady could be the answer to get them over the hump.
Location, location, location. The NFL world seems to know that Brady’s wife, Supermodel Giselle Bundchen will have some say in his free agency decision. L.A. seems to be a natural fit. Additionally, the Chargers will be moving into a new stadium. Much has been mentioned of the Chargers’ ability to attract a new fan base in Los Angeles. So, it’s imperative that they have the ability to fill seats in the SoFi stadium, which is being shared with the Rams. The question is do they replace Rivers with rookie quarterback through the draft or lure Brady to sunny SoCal? Add the fact that Brady’s family is in Northern California and this seems as likely a destination as any.
Raiders general manager, Mike Mayock, is on record saying, “If we can get better, we will?”. Signing Brady would be a huge boost to a franchise moving into a new stadium in a new city. The offensive line and running game are solid. Darren Waller is a tremendous weapon at the tight end position. Hunter Renfrow is analogous to Julian Edelman-light. However, the wide-outs leave a little to be desired which, can be remedied through free agency and the draft. Perhaps adding A.J. Green would entice Brady to make the move.
The AFC West goes through reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. It would be quite something for Brady’s legacy to have to go up against and beat, the new face of the NFL, Patrick Mahomes twice each season. The location would also support his wife’s career with a move to Las Vegas. And, furthermore, the melding of minds with the head coach, Jon Gruden. That’s must-see tv in my book.
All Eyes on Brady
Brady’s decision this 2020 NFL free agency season will set in motion the direction of the quarterback position for many teams. Once Brady is signed all eyes will turn toward the draft and the intrigue surrounding Tua Tagovailoa‘s draft destination. But, that’s a different story.
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