Tom Brady is done after this year. Unless he’s not. He’s returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023. Unless he signs somewhere else.
All options for Brady — a soon-to-be free agent — are on the table, according to this NFL Media report: Retiring, re-signing with the Buccaneers or changing teams yet again.
That uncertainty lends itself to great speculation. We join in the fun with our potential Tom Brady landing spots list.
Tom Brady Landing Spots
Brady has had a tough go of it this year. He got divorced. His best bro Rob Gronkowski retired. The Buccaneers’ offense is a mess. And another Super Bowl run seems quite unlikely.
Yet NFL Media reports that Brady — who had planned to make the 2022 season his last — has experienced a bit of a renewal in recent weeks, with two game-winning drives in the last month and three wins in four games.
And while Brady’s stats haven’t been his best this year, he entered Sunday’s action ranked fifth in passing yards (3,332), 15th in passer rating (91.6), and 17th in EPA+CPOE composite. In other words, he’s still performing as a better-than-average starting quarterback, even with all that’s gone wrong around him.
That body of work could convince some contender in need of a quarterback that he’s still the guy to put them over the top. Here are the five clubs that best fit that description.
San Francisco 49ers
It would be something if Brady chases Jimmy Garoppolo away from a second franchise. Garoppolo had actually outplayed Brady before suffering a Week 13 foot injury that almost certainly has ended his season.
But if given the chance between a solid player and perhaps the greatest athlete in American team sports history, it’s a no-brainer.
Garoppolo is a free agent at season’s end, and Trey Lance will enter Year 3 with more questions than answers. The Niners have a Super Bowl roster and an offensive system that’s almost quarterback-proof.
And, oh yeah, Brady is from the Bay Area.
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr probably sealed his fate in Sin City with a horrendous performance in an inexcusable loss to the Rams on Thursday night.
The Raiders aren’t making the playoffs after that result, which means Carr will go nine straight seasons in Silver and Black without a playoff win. No other quarterback in recent NFL memory has been given that long of a leash.
But our sense is enough is finally enough. And that means the Raiders will need a quarterback to throw the ball to Davante Adams. No better candidate than Brady, who could reunite with Josh McDaniels — his former offensive coordinator in New England.
Two of Brady’s three MVP seasons — 2007 and 2017 — came with McDaniels calling the plays.
New York Jets
Could you imagine Brady and Belichick in the same division? With Brady playing for the team Belichick has basically owned over the last quarter century?
It makes a ton of sense. If Brady has one last hurrah in him, there’s no bigger stage than New York. Plus, the Jets are loaded at every position other than quarterback. They have a playoff-caliber defense.
The Jets are 28th in dropback EPA (-.05) and 29th in team passer rating (-.04) — and still might make the playoffs this year. Adding Brady could be the final piece to a puzzle that returns the Jets to the Super Bowl for the first time in more than five decades.
New York Giants
If the Jets don’t land Brady, maybe Gotham’s other team will. Brian Daboll is building something intriguing in East Rutherford. They’re in the playoff conversation despite fielding an overmatched roster each week.
An improved Daniel Jones is a free agent after this year, and the Giants will have to make a decision on franchising him prior to free agency. That means the Giants would need to surreptitiously feel out Brady’s level of interest in signing with Big Blue and be quite confident in their ability to land him to let Jones reach the open market.
In other words, kind of what the Dolphins improperly did with Brady last winter — resulting in a lost first-round pick and a suspension for owner Stephen Ross.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Aside from familiarity, the Buccaneers have the weakest argument of the five to sign Brady this offseason.
The team hasn’t been the same without Bruce Arians, and the Buccaneers’ cap situation next year is bleak. They’re projected to be $45.3 million over the cap.
That deficit is driven largely by a $35.1 million dead cap figure for Brady, a number that presumably would be adjusted significantly if he decides to return for a fourth season in Tampa.
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