After 20 years in Boston, future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady has left the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is, without question, the biggest free-agency signing of the year, and perhaps the biggest in the last decade, as it likely ends the Patriots dynasty of being the best team in AFC (for now at least. The consequential coach-quarterback partnership of Brady and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, led the team to 17 division titles, five AFC championship games, and nine Super Bowls, of which they won six, over a 20-year span. They also won the Super Bowl in back to back years between 2003 and 2004, the first team to ever achieve this feat.
The duo made the Patriots one of the most dominant franchises in NFL history, and inspired Boston sports fans for two decades. In his letter to Patriot fans which was posted on social media, Brady thanked them from the “bottom of [his] heart,” saying, “I will always love you and what we have shared — a lifetime full of fun memories.”
With Brady now gone, Belicheck has a nearly insurmountable gap to fill. The recent signing of quarterback Brian Hoyer will not likely be a permanent replacement, and the Patriots will likely look to the draft for a more suitable candidate. Jordan Love of Utah State and Jacob Eason of Washington are the two players New England is likely to choose between, given recent mock draft predictions by Will Brinson.
Alternatively, the Patriots could also address their need at quarterback through the signing of a free agent. Jameis Winston is the only elite player that has remained unsigned. Winston came in second in the number of touchdowns thrown this past season, yet also led the league in interceptions. If Winston is signed, and Belichick is able to suppress the latter of the two stats, he would be a dangerous player.
The Patriots could also sign former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who would likely only cost a third or second-round pick at most. Newton hasn’t played in a Panther’s uniform since 2018 due to injury and, with the signing of quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and PJ Walker, will likely not anytime in the future. The former Heisman Trophy winner, Newton has led the Panthers to multiple winning seasons, including an AFC title win in 2015, though went on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos.
His ability to throw outside the pocket is unquestionable, but may not suit Belichick’s scheme, given Brady was not a running quarterback in the slightest. His durability over a 16-game season is also in question, as he missed the entirety of the 2018 season.
Another potential outcome for the Patriots this year is to tank, lose a lot of close games, receive the number one draft pick, and select Clemson Quarter Trevor Lawrence when he finally becomes eligible to declare for the draft in 2021.
However, Belichick is notorious for finding diamonds in the rough at all positions, as the Patriots have picked up undrafted free agents who turn out better than those they selected in the first round (even Tom Brady himself was a sixth-round selection). New England could very much select a sleeper quarterback as a replacement who none of us expect.
This move leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with some hope for the first time in a relatively underwhelming franchise ever since they won the super bowl in 2002. Still, although Brady’s career has been undeniably impressive, his current ability is a question. At 42(he’ll be 43 by the start of the season), he is way past his physical prime. Already not so mobile, his ability to avoid pressure and escape the pocket is limited even further because of his age. Also, he posted his worst QBR in 2019 since his 2008 campaign.
However, what Brady undoubtedly possesses is a talented football brain. He is joining a stacked offense with the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at wide receiver, and athletic monster O.J. Howard at tight end. With the removal of Winston’s outrageous amount of turnovers, the focused offense could be dangerous and could add a couple more wins to their previous record of 7-9 (The Bucs did lose on week 3 to the New York Giants after a missed 34-yard field goal on the last play of the game). With fewer turnovers and improved offensive talent, Brady could become the framework for the Bucs to win enough games to make a playoff berth.