After 20 seasons as a New England Patriot, quarterback Tom Brady has made the decision to leave New England to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Over those 20 seasons, Brady went from a mere sixth-round pick out of Michigan to the winningest player in the history of the sport.
Brady has managed to rack up a plethora of NFL records, including most passing yards, most wins and most Super Bowl appearances by any quarterback. Through his tenure, he’s won six Super Bowls, four Super Bowl MVPs, three regular-season MVPs and a Comeback Player of the Year award. Brady’s departure brings great change to both the Patriots’ and Buccaneers’ organizations, their fans and the league as a whole as Brady switches conferences.
Since winning the 2003 Super Bowl, the Buccaneers have been one of the least successful and least profitable teams in the league. Their turnstile rotation at quarterback has been capped off most recently by 2015 first overall pick Jameis Winston being an absolute bust, throwing 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions over this past season. This performance is historic, quite literally, in the league’s record books, and ultimately ended Winston’s tenure of misguiding Tampa Bay from the signal-caller position. As far as profit and efficiency goes, Brady, regardless of age, has the name brand and intelligence to bring the organization to a higher level. Brady’s signing has skyrocketed the purchases of season tickets for the Buccaneers, and they’re currently putting together a growing waitlist at this point.
Being one of the three teams in Florida, the Buccaneers have been decent at landing free agents in years past, but never any names close to the level of Brady. There have been scattered rumors from NFL insiders about players contacting Buccaneers’ coach Bruce Arians asking to be acquired so they can play with Brady. Some will say the two year, $50 million signing wasn’t worth the risk of having a 42-year-old starting under center. However, for the first time in a decade, Tampa Bay is relevant and looking to be one of the more profitable organizations. The real question is how well Brady will be able to adapt to Arians’ system, along with how much chemistry he can develop with star wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The Buccaneers haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, but that didn’t seem to bother Brady in the slightest when eyeing the destination. With Godwin and Evans, who were massive contributors towards Winston’s 30 touchdowns this past season, Brady has the best duo he’s thrown to in his career outside of Wes Welker and Randy Moss. Last year, Godwin and Evans combined for a league-high of 2490 yards. Brady also has stellar tight end O.J Howard, who continues to develop as he progresses through his first few seasons in the league. Tampa Bay has an above-average offensive line to work with, but they’re sitting at 14 in the first round of the draft, which is early enough to pick up a strong prospect in a deep offensive line class in terms of talent. If Brady can teach Tampa Bay his winning mentality, then he has the tools he needs to continue his legendary success.
The Patriots find themselves in need of a franchise quarterback for the first time in decades. After cutting him earlier last season, quarterback Brian Hoyer has been re-signed as a reliable backup who knows offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system and scheme. Their other option is young quarterback Jarret Stidham, whom they drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Though Stidham has the upside of being a young prospect who showed flashes of potential through preseason games, both options don’t appear to be viable long term starters, leading fans to wonder if the Patriots will try and take one of the many talented quarterbacks early in the upcoming draft.
A somewhat genius long term gamble would be for New England to avoid picking a signal-caller, trading back or picking up solid players to develop and intentionally have a bad season in hopes of securing the first overall draft pick. They could then use that draft pick for a young early-round quarterback for a long term option, such as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who is considered by many as the best college prospect since Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. Overall, the Patriots’ success in the near future is questionable, but coach Bill Belichick has proven time and time again that he can figure it out.
Brady’s underdog career has been inspiring to many and proven that you don’t need to be a first-round pick to find success in this league. When he initially joined New England, they had yet to win a Super Bowl, and now as he leaves they have six Lombardi trophies sitting in their trophy case, second to only the Pittsburgh Steelers who have seven. Though fans may be disheartened by Brady’s departure, they’ll be able to recover as they feed into a new wonderful storyline; who made who better? Was Belichick only able to get by with draft picks and cheap free agents because of Brady’s steadiness at quarterback, or were the limitations of Brady in his decline the true limiting factor in the eventual end of the Patriots dynasty? We won’t know until the season begins, but it certainly shakes up the league, to say the least.