Tom Brady is officially a former New England Patriot. Let that sink in for a minute. Okay, are you done screaming internally? Great. I’m not, but we’ll move on. The greatest quarterback of all time has signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no, I am not joking) for two years at $25 million per year. The deal also includes $4.5 million in incentives per year, bringing the grand total to $59 million that Brady can take home.
The new deal for Brady also contains a full no-trade clause and prohibits Tampa Bay from using the franchise tag on him once the contract expires. That last part there, the thing about the franchise tag, might be the most interesting wrinkle of this deal. Why would Tom want freedom from being franchise tagged before the 2022 season? Well, it would seem that the QB has not ruled out playing into his age 45 season and will once again want to dictate where that happens, rather than be slapped with the tag which would lock him back in with Tampa Bay against his will.
Will Brady look to move on to a third team once he hits free agency again in two years? Would he come back to New England to spend a season before retiring where he belongs? Will he even be good enough at that point that any team would want him as their starter? All interesting, but premature thoughts. We’ll put those on the back burner for now.
What I’m really here to write about is the fact that Tom Brady actually chose the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the New England Patriots. That will never feel normal although it really just is par for the course in the bizarro world we are now living in. If you had told me even a week ago that he’d seriously end up in Tampa Bay of all places, I would have said that I’m worried about your well being because the Corona Virus has clearly effected your mind. I mean, I was really still laughing at the Vegas odds having the Bucs as favorites earlier this week. It just seemed nonsensical.
As this situation unfolded and we found out Brady was not in fact returning to New England, I started wracking my brain for what could possibly be happening. The teams that made sense for him all seemed to be out and now it was down to Tampa and the Los Angeles Chargers. Neither were a good fit or worthy of a player like Brady. He HAD to have an ace up his sleeve. There just HAD to be a mystery team lurking. If he was going to sign on with the Chargers or Bucs, it wouldn’t be a definitive win like it would have been with Tennessee or San Francisco. In order to actually leave New England, he needed a place that checked all of the boxes.
I started to analyze each situation and came up with this little list of reasons for and against the two suitors left.
Los Angeles Chargers
Pros - Big city/market, Brady is from California, Great place to market TB12 and run other business ventures, Warm weather, New stadium, Awesome jerseys, Weapons on offense, Talent on defense, Will probably let him run the show and offer anything he wants contract-wise
Cons - Not in San Diego anymore, LA isn’t a football town, If LA was a football town the Rams and even the Raiders would come before the Chargers, Bad ownership, Coaching is suspect, Gisele reportedly doesn’t like LA, Sharing the new stadium, Would be in same division as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Not many fans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pros - Bruce Arians is a great coach who has worked with some of the best QBs of all time and has an offensive mind/likes to throw the ball, Arians is the polar opposite of Bill Belichick in that he is a player’s coach, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are a top-tier receiver tandem, New jerseys, NFC team that won’t have to play the Pats as often, Warm weather, No state income tax, Will offer anything he wants contract-wise, Will probably let him run the show
Cons - It’s Tampa Bay, Seriously though that isn’t a big market, Not the best place to continue business ventures, No one will care as much there, Same division as Drew Brees and the Saints, The team isn’t that talented outside of a few skill position players, It’s the Buccaneers, C’mon Tom
As you can see, neither place was even close to a home run for Brady. Either he had something else that we didn’t know about, or you could assume he was playing chicken with the Patriots and looking to see who moved first. Nothing was adding up and as the NFL insiders started reporting, not even the teams in the running for Brady knew exactly what he was going to do.
As it turned out, Brady chose the Bucs. It was first reported late Tuesday by Colin Cowherd (who really shouldn’t get credit because he had Brady going just about everywhere, but whatever) and we got more and more confirmation as the night went on. I, like many, was stunned. This just felt surreal. Brady was not only leaving but he was going to such a loser franchise and getting photoshopped into those godawful red, yellow, orange and brown jerseys (that they are thankfully giving the ax to). All of this felt like a video game or a mad-lib or something. Tom Brady in Tampa Bay was more awkward than Michael Jordan as a Wizard. The world couldn’t be allowing this.
Wednesday came and the free agency period started at 4 pm. That’s when I expected to hear from Brady himself, confirming my worst nightmare. Instead, nothing happened all night and things seemed to go radio silent apart from one Adam Schefter tweet.
Bucs and Tom Brady still trying to finalize contract language as of Wednesday night and those discussions will go into Thursday, per source. Contract language more challenging this off-season than any time in recent memory. No problems forseen with Bucs-Brady, but no deal yet.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2020
At this point, I allowed myself to believe this wasn't going to go through. I was in the denial stage and was actually talking to myself and trying to convince myself things were going to be okay. I had been waiting for someone, anyone, within Tom's inner-circle to shake him and say "HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! TAMPA BAY?! SERIOUSLY?!" Maybe that was what was happening. Maybe Brady had cooled down his anger and started thinking straight. Maybe this was a Josh McDaniels to the Indianapolis Colts situation all over again.
That feeling bubbled up among a few other Pats fans on Twitter and I could feel a very small glimmer of hope trying to break through. I kind of knew it was dumb and would only end up hurting me twice, like the Mookie Betts situation did, but I hung on to it because it was all that I had. Around Thursday night, gave up. There still hadn’t been any official announcement that the pen had been put to paper and the ink was dry but I knew. It was only a matter of time.
So Friday morning, I was sipping my coffee and looking at my phone before work and I got hit with another Brady Instagram post confirming the worst.
View this post on Instagram
Excited, humble and hungry ...if there is one thing I have learned about football, it’s that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that...you earn the trust and respect of those around through your commitment every single day. I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the @buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do. I look forward to meeting all my new teammates and coaches and proving to them that they can believe and trust in me...I have always believed that well done is better than well said, so I’m not gonna say much more - I’m just gonna get to work! #Year1 p.s. Jack Brady with the photocred 😀
That was it. It was over and it came straight from the horse’s mouth. The Bucs and their fans rejoiced and Pats fans continued down our doom and gloom road that we’ve been on all week. It doesn’t feel real and the contract details didn’t help. The Patriots could have done that deal if they wanted to, but Kraft and Belichick failed us. It’s a real shame and it’s going to hurt for a long time. I’ll continue to flesh this whole thing out because I have a million thoughts about how we got here, where we go, where Tom goes etc. For now, it’s really just sad to think about how Tom Brady is a pirate, not a Patriot.