Six Super Bowl titles in two decades. Pretty much the most dominant franchise in the modern history of the NFL. That’s what future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady gave up to move on from the New England Patriots in free agency.
The 42-year-old Brady is now expected to suit up for Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season with the two sides expected to reach agreement on a deal soon.
It’s a stark contrast. Brady heads to an organization has has earned a grand total of five playoff appearances since he entered the league back in 2020.
But guess what. Brady has found an upgrade in the process.
Looking at it realistically: I can’t possibly say that the Buccaneers are a better-run organization than New England. But it would be ignorant not to point out that Brady is now in a better position to contend than if he had re-signed with the Patriots. It’s not necessarily too close.
The Buccaneers’ skill-positions: We’re talking about a plethora of talent that will be at Brady’s disposal in 2020. One of the most talented skill-position groups in the NFL.
- Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined to catch 153 passes for nearly 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. It was an historical performance from the duo.
- They did so with Jameis Winston throwing interceptions at a record clip and struggling big time with accuracy. Even with his skill set dwindling, Brady is a vastly superior quarterback in almost every regard.
- At running back, the Buccaneers saw former second-round pick Ronald Jones III break out as a sophomore. He tallied 1,033 total yards at a clip of 5.1 yards per touch. Jones also caught a resounding 78% of his 40 targets last season.
- This doesn’t even include a talented tight end duo in that of Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard who have been misused under Arians. That will obviously change with Brady under center.
The Patriots: As we law during last season’s early playoff exit, New England simply doesn’t have the skill-position talent to lift a regressing Brady up.
- In previous seasons, New England could rely in Brady to get the most out of a less-than-talented skill-position group. Now that he has regressed some, that was not going to be the case moving forward.
- Former first-round pick Sony Michel has found himself in and out of Bill Belichick’s dog house. It’s led to an inconsistent performance from the running back.
- Last year’s top pick, wide receiver N’Keal Harry, caught a total of 12 passes in seven games as a rookie. Brady was still left relying on an aging Julian Edelman to be his top target. The team made a major mistake by adding Harry over the likes of second rounders A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel and D.K. Metcalf.
- With Rob Gronkowski enjoying the retired life, New England’s tight ends did absolutely nothing of substance last season. Their leading receiver at this position was Ben Watson with 17 catches. Ouch.
A change of scenery: Sometimes, a marriage has to come to an end. That became readily apparent between Brady and the Patriots in recent months.
- Even at 42 years old and with the unknown looking at him directly in the face, Brady has the ability for a career rebirth of sorts. We saw it years back when Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts for Denver.
- With this will come a sense of purpose. The idea that Brady was not a product of Mr. Belichick and the Patriots’ organization. He’s now out to prove naysayers wrong.
- With an elite group of skill-position players, I fully expect that to happen. Tampa Bay will find a way to upgrade on defense and along the offensive line. It has gone all in by signing Brady. That will play a role here, too.
It’s going to be hard to see Brady in another uniform next season. That’s not just for Patriots fans. It’s true when it comes to those without a rooting interest.
Even then, this is likely the best move for the all-time great as he enters the twilight of his career. The Buccaneers are simply a better team for Mr. Brady right now.
It might be hard to grasp this. The history of these two organizations is well known. But for right now, Brady has found an upgrade by moving on from New England to Tampa. That’s as clear as day.