After a twenty year stay in New England, Tom Brady is moving south to Tampa Bay – can you believe it?
Tom Brady has announced that after 20 years, 285 games and an impressive 74,571 yards, that he will be leaving the New England Patriots this free agency. It was a shock to most people as you would’ve thought Brady would have retired a Patriot – that’s all we’ve ever known. TB-12 is going to T.B!
Less than 12 hours after Brady announced that he wouldn’t be returning to the Patriots, ESPN’s Adam Schefter—in a dual report with his colleague Jeff Darlington—tweeted that Brady intended to sign with the Bucs. Hard as it may be to process the image of Brady in a uniform other than New England’s, the decision—for both parties—isn’t all that surprising when you dig into the details.
Financially and on the field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do have a lot to offer Tom Brady.
The deal for the veteran quarterback is said to be worth around $30 million a year, which means that after playing at a discount for years in New England, the greatest quarterback of all time will finally have a salary in the same ballpark as Kirk Cousins’. However, Brady’s income probably isn’t on the top of his priority list – not with over $200 million banked in career earnings and not to mention his successful wife, who’s worth more than $400 million.
His asking price at this point was likely more about respect than the pay check. And by offering Brady a deal near the top of the market, Tampa Bay proved they were serious about bringing him aboard. I mean, who wouldn’t want a 42-year-old legend who can still throw for 4,000 yards in a not-so-legendary season, something we have all come accustomed to over the past twenty years.
Brady had great rapport with Julian Edelman, but both of Tampa Bay’s guys are more talented than any Patriots wideout since Randy Moss. Evans is the sort of physically imposing target whom Brady didn’t have on the outside in New England, and Godwin proved last season that he’s one of the best young talents in the sport—at any position. 86 receptions for 1,333 with nine touchdowns in 2019 is definitely something to shout about. O.J. Howard went missing in Tampa Bay’s offense last season, but Brady’s history with tight ends suggests that he’s the right guy to rejuvenate the former first-round pick’s career. Evans, Godwin, a revived Howard, and no. 2 tight end Cameron Brate would form the best pass-catching group Brady’s had in a long time. The concern now is whether Brady is the right quarterback to properly utilise all those weapons.
The system that Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich brought to Tampa Bay is designed to push the ball down the field. Jameis Winston finished second in the NFL last season with 10.5 average air yards per target. Some of that stems from his aggressive playing style, but Arians has favoured a high-octane vertical passing game for his entire career. Winston’s mind-set just happened to fit that approach. At this point in his career, Brady doesn’t seem to fit that style of offence.
New England’s passing game in recent years consisted mainly of underneath passes, quick-game throws and screens to running backs, and play-action concepts designed to attack the middle of the field. Asking Brady, who’s 42, to consistently pump go routes outside the numbers and rip 20-yard deep digs into traffic probably isn’t the best idea. Luckily, Arians is smart enough to understand that. We may see a different, younger look to Brady in the coming season, and it’s taking me a little bit of time to get used to the idea – not to mention Brady in another uniform.
During his time as a play-caller, Arians made a conscious effort to elicit input and feedback from his quarterbacks. Guys like Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, and Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of say when it came to weekly game plans and play menus. With Brady, I’d assume that partnership will extend to the entire offence. Communication will be key as Brady and the Bucs staff shape the offence to his preferences, but the guys in that room have collectively seen enough football to build a system that works. Along with Arians and his 26 years of NFL experience, Leftwich has 10 years as an NFL quarterback under his belt, and Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen has coached in the league for more than two decades. That group will construct a system that puts Brady and their considerable pass-catching talent in the best possible position.
Betting on a 42-year-old quarterback comes with considerable risk. Even when that quarterback is the best to ever do it. But Arians is 67 and has substantial influence on the team’s personnel.
If the Bucs were going to move on from Winston, Arians couldn’t have been too excited about the prospect of drafting a quarterback early and shepherding his development—especially with the rest of Tampa Bay’s roster primed to compete right now. It might seem like an odd marriage on its face, but after taking stock of their options, both Brady and the Bucs came to the reasonable conclusion that this was the best path forward. Tom Brady is the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And somehow, that kind of feels right, somehow.