Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady didn’t exactly attract a bidding war as a free agent last NFL offseason, only to go on to lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl LV victory.
With Brady in the news for his NSFW appearance on HBO’s The Shop (h/t Dov Kleiman) and bashing at least one of the suitors who passed on him, let’s look at four teams who are likely regretting passing on TB12 the most.
Everyone hails Chris Ballard as an excellent general manager, and deservedly so. That said, what was this man thinking when he had the chance to sign either Tom Brady or Philip Rivers?
The answer is fairly obvious. Head coach Frank Reich wanted a reunion with Rivers, and to be fair, the Colts did make the playoffs and won 11 games. However, Rivers is now retired at age 39, and Indianapolis is experimenting with another Reich reclamation project in Carson Wentz.
With an excellent offensive line, running game and well-coached defense to support him, Brady could’ve done some serious damage in Indy. Instead, the Colts may burn a golden chance at a championship in the next two years if Wentz doesn’t work out.
No one really talks about this one. Joe Burrow was the only slam-dunk QB prospect in the 2020 draft. Justin Herbert absolutely blew everyone away with his amazing rookie year. Very few had him pegged as a surefire high-end starter.
The Dolphins were linked to Tua Tagovailoa for multiple years and didn’t waver whatsoever, and it looks like they made a big mistake passing on Herbert.
How amazing would it have been to plug Brady in under center for a Miami franchise that hasn’t had a true superstar at QB since Dan Marino?
The mind games the Dolphins could play on their AFC East rival and Brady’s former club, the New England Patriots, would’ve been legendary. Miami won 10 games with Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the offense last year. What could the ceiling have been with Brady instead?
These “what if?” scenarios are going to nag Fins fans forever if Tagovailoa proves to be a bust. You’d be lying if you said you’d rather have Tagovailoa instead of Brady. Heck, even in the event Brady did sign in Miami, the Dolphins still could’ve drafted a young QB in either of the past two drafts.
San Francisco 49ers
Brady’s hometown team could’ve gotten him. It’s not like there weren’t legs to this. Mere days after the 49ers lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, rumors surfaced that San Francisco wasn’t happy with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Not only is Brady the GOAT and an upgrade over Jimmy G, but he’d be in a scheme masterminded by a genius in Kyle Shanahan. Imagine what TB12 and Shanahan could do with their collective knowledge of the game.
Garoppolo made six starts, went 3-3, and the 49ers suffered a vicious Super Bowl hangover. Some of that had to do with a rash of injuries, but there’s no telling the ripple effect Brady would’ve created in the Bay Area.
Now, would San Francisco have been in good enough position to draft Trey Lance if Brady had been there? No.
Lance looks like he could be really special, but again, wouldn’t you rather have Brady entering the next two seasons as opposed to Jimmy G and an unproven rookie?
New Orleans Saints
You can at least see why the Saints wouldn’t do Drew Brees like that in what would prove to be his final NFL season, but recent buzz out of New Orleans suggests the team was extremely close to replacing Brees with Tom Terrific.
Brady and the Bucs lost twice to the Saints during the regular season, but traveled to the Superdome and knocked them off in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. It was the last stand for Brees, who finished his career with just one Lombardi Trophy in his lone Super Bowl appearance.
Crazy to think that for all the amazing years Brees strung together, he now has the exact same amount of NFC Championship Game wins as Brady, who’s played in the conference for only one season.
The Saints are rolling into 2021 with either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill as their successor to the legendary Brees. Winston last started in 2019 for none other than Tampa Bay, and threw 30 interceptions that season.
It’s quite likely that New Orleans will continue to utilize Hill’s uniquely versatile skill set as an all-around offensive weapon as opposed to strictly starting at quarterback. Whether Hill exceeds all reasonable expectations and beats out Winston or not, though, you can bet the Saints are hurting by not giving Brees some tough love and signing Brady last year.
With Tom Brady, hindsight is 20/20, but…
Why would ever bet against this man? He’s a maniacal competitor, the smartest, most experienced QB still playing, and was saddled with a horrendous set of skill players during his final season in New England. Brady has also never commanded top-dollar money, even in the midst of a wild QB contract market.
Tom Brady should’ve garnered much more interest when he entered NFL free agency for the first time. Credit the Buccaneers for having the sense to sign him, and changing the course of history for their organization and pro football itself.