What would you do if you were Brady?

by Gary Shelton on January 8, 2023

in general

Brady will have choices./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Fame is not the issue. Fortune can be had anywhere. Given that, what do you do?

The headlines will follow you no matter what color of shirt you wear. The statistics will continue to pile up. The observers will continue to fawn. They will whisper about your love life, about your sideline tantrums, about your decisions.

Ah, but if it is up to you, and your name is Tom Brady, what do you do?

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Granted, most of us don't know anything about changing one multi-million contract for another one. But most of us have changed jobs. We've compared some new and intriguing to something with loyalty and familiarity. It's not all about money. It's not all about co-workers.

Brady has faced this situation once before, when he left the New England Patriots and joined the Tampa Bay Bucs. He looked around and figured his chance of winning wasn't as good, and his level of teammates weren't as talented, and he left.

So what now?

Does Brady jump to yet another team? Does he come back to Tampa Bay? Might he even consider a return to New England? Does he retire for his TV commentator job?

Today's game against the Atlanta Falcons is the last remaining obstacle between Brady and the post-season, and already, the rumors are flying. But that's the thing with Brady. No one really knows. Brady is a great football player, but when you ask him a question, he's a talented dodgeball player, too. So around his footprints, there is guesswork.

Does Brady come back to Tampa Bay? Let's face it: With the Bucs, he has all the input a quarterback could want. So does he stay loyal and play a final season here? Or does he look at the holes in the roster and figure his best chance of winning, this time, is to leave Tampa Bay.

First things first: I think Brady is being honest when he says he likes his teammates. I think he can see 3-4 games that got away partially because of injuries and holes on the roster.

But will the offensive line be able to run block next year? Granted, Ryan Jensen will be back, but so will Donovan Smith. Will the pass rush be improved? The secondary?

For all the flaws on Brady this year --and yes, there were some -- Tampa Bay fans should treasure the three seasons he spent here. The team has never had three years of quarterbacking as good.

At the same time, you can't blame Brady for looking around at the point in his life.

The thing is, there may be fewer fits for the quarterback than you think. A lot of teams -- Buffalo, Kansas City, Cincinnati, the Chargers, Philadelphia, Dallas, the 49ers, the Rams, Cleveland, maybe Baltimore, are heavily invested with another quarterback. Others, like Chicago, Houston, Arizona, Atlanta and Carolina are too far away from being a team that matters.

That means that roughly two-thirds of the teams in the NFL won't be interested.

So where would you go if you Brady?

Las Vegas? These days, when people throw darts at the NFL standings and try to figure out where Brady will go, they often start with the Raiders.

It's easy to connect the dots. The Raiders just moved on from Derek Carr, and it's an exciting city, and old buddy Josh McDaniels is the head coach.

On the other hand, the Raiders have one winning season in their last six. Even with Brady, the Raiders don't figure to be an odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl. And if they don't win, who knows how long McDaniels lasts?

Miami? To me, this is the alternative market that makes the most sense. The Dolphins have great talent, particularly at wide receiver.

True, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa started the season well until his current four-game losing streak. But that might also spur the Dolphins to make a change. They're a team that might prefer short-term impact to long-term stability. Besides, Brady owns a mansion in Miami.

New England? The Patriots won for years because they were by far the most talented team in the AFC East. That's not true anymore. Not with Buffalo and Miami and an improving Jets team.

It was hard on Patriots fans to see Brady leave once. It would be hard on them if he eventually did it again. Reunions rarely work.

Are there others? Sure. If I owned New Orleans, I'd make a call. The Saints may have the most talent of any roster in the division despite their record. If I owned the Colts, or the Commanders, or the Vikings, or the Titans, I'd kick the tires. The Giants and the Jets may not be close enough, but the thought of the splash one of them would make with Brady would be tempting.

Hey, I know Brady's age. I realize he hasn't been as sharp as most years this season. But he still has the talent to play. He still can bring a team back. And he'll still have teams that are interested.

The thing to remember is this: Most of the teams that are within putting distance of the Super Bowl already have a quarterback they like.

As for the Bucs, they shouldn't be in any hurry to start the clock on Kyle Trask. Few franchises have been as quarterback poor as this one. They should move mountains to make sure Brady is happy.

Otherwise, the future looks dark.

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