In 2020, Tom Brady will enter his 21st season in the NFL. The 2000 6th round section of the New England Patriots has played his entire 20 year career with the Patriots organization. For the first time in Brady’s storied career he is an unrestricted free agent, prompting the football world to ask, “Where will Tom Brady play next season”?
Brady seems to be enjoying all the attention he’s getting as a result and is feeding into the, “Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season?” hype. He posted a rather cryptic message on his Instagram account regarding his future that turned out to be a Super Bowl commercial for Hulu.
Since then, the possibility of Brady leaving the Patriots has become more and more of a possibility. NFL insider Jeff Darlington recently told ESPN that he would be “stunned’ if Brady ends up returning to New England for the 2020 season. Adding fuel to the fire was the video that went viral of Julian Edelman and Tom Brady, where Edelman repeatedly states “he’s coming back”, and Brady ending it off with what appears to be “he’s not”.
Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season?
Let’s rank the potential landing spots for the game’s greatest QB of all-time from least likely to most likely. There are currently 13 potential job openings at quarterback in the NFL this offseason.
4. Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season? – The Pretenders
Cincinnati Bengals – Yes, the Cincinnati Bengals have a job opening in 2020. A job opening that is all but certain to be filled in a few months with Joe Burrow and the top overall pick in the NFL Entry Draft. Tom Brady doesn’t fit with the Bengals plans, and the Bengals certainly don’t fit with Brady’s.
Dallas Cowboys – Dak Prescott is currently without a contract for the upcoming season, thus the potential job opening. There were some rumblings earlier in the offseason linking Brady to Dallas, however that appeared to be nothing but smoke without fire. The job opening in Dallas will be filed soon. The Cowboys will apply the Franchise Tag to Dak if necessary, thus removing themselves from the Tom Brady sweepstakes.
Detroit Lions – First of all, you would have to believe that there is an opening in Detroit. I do not. Despite recent rumblings of the Lions shopping Matthew Stafford, combined with the reports that Stafford is seeking a trade, I expect the Lions franchise quarterback back under center in 2020.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags attempted to solve their quarterback issues this time last season, inking free agent Nick Foles to a 3 year $88 million dollar contract with $50.125 of it guaranteed. Foles got hurt and Gardner Minshew became a thing. Long story short, the Jags have enough quarterback issues, and adding Tom Brady is not an option.
Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are going in a new direction in 2020 with Matt Rhule and they appear to be comfortable heading into the new season with the returning Cam Newton. If by chance the Panthers decide to move on from Cam, I would expect them to go into full rebuild mode and ride with youth at quarterback. Tom Brady doesn’t have the time for or the interest in a rebuild, and as result the answer to where will Tom Brady play next season is not Carolina.
3. Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season? – The Contenders
Chicago Bears – The Chicago Bears seemingly have all the pieces required to be a championship team except a reliable quarterback. Should the Bears make a pitch to Tom Brady? Yes. Will they? No. Bears GM Ryan Pace traded up in the draft to select Mitchell Trubisky 2nd overall in 2017. He drafted the North Carolina QB over the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the process. NFL GM’s are not big on admitting they were wrong.
The Bears need help at QB and they will bring someone in. I believe it will be a Marcus Mariota or Andy Dalton type of QB that will enable the Bears to start the season with Trubisky. If Trubisky falters, Chicago will have an in house replacement hoping that it works for them like it did for the Tennessee Titans and Ryan Tannehill a year ago.
Indianapolis Colts – The Indianapolis Colts were forced to promote backup Jacoby Brissett into the starting role after the surprising retirement of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck just days before the start of the 2019 season. Brissett played valiantly through the early weeks of the season, but it quickly became apparent that he wouldn’t be enough to get the Colts to the postseason.
The Colts could could stick with Brissett, look to the draft for a QB, or they could target free agency to sign their next quarterback. Should Indianapolis elect to go with option No. 3, they’d certainly at least reach out to Brady with an offer. The Colts make sense for Brady as well. Indy has a top rated offensive line and some nice weapons for their new quarterback. Rumors seem to indicate a reunion with Head Coach Frank Reich in 2020 with the leading candidate being Phillip Rivers, and to a lesser extent, Nick Foles.
Tennessee Titans – The Tennessee Titans appeared to find their man after a mid-season switch at quarterback, swapping out Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill led the Titans to the AFC championship game, finishing the year with a 9-4 record as the starter.
Tannehill, like Brady, is a free agent, and with his success in the back-half of 2019, he has put himself in a position to get paid. The odds are that the Titans will figure out a way to bring Tannehill back. If the Titans are unsuccessful negotiating with Tannehill and they decide to use the Franchise tag on Derrick Henry, Tannehill will go to market.
If another team is successful in signing Tannehill, head coach Mike Vrabel could reach out to his former Patriots teammate to see if Brady wants to try and win another Super Bowl together. The Titans make sense for Brady as well, this is, after all, a team that just went to the AFC Championship game.
When it is all said and done, I believe that Tannehill will be back under center for the Titans in 2020 and beyond. The answer to where Tom Brady will play in 2020 is not Tennessee.
2. Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season? – The Shortlist
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston is a fascinating quarterback case. He appears to be Jeckyll and Hyde, simultaneously brilliant and unplayable, leading the NFL in passing yards and interceptions, in 2019 becoming the leagues first 30/30 QB (touchdowns/interceptions). It is looking more and more likely that Bruce Arians and the Bucs are going to move on from Winston.
Enter Tom Brady as a viable option. Tampa Bay makes sense for Brady as well. He will instantly have two elite pass catching wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as well as solid blocking and pass catching TE option in O.J. Howard.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer also happens to own Manchester United F.C. The opportunity for Brady to put the TB12 brand front and center in the Champions League, partnering with the league’s most famous organization could be quite the selling feature for Tampa Bay.
In the end I believe that the Buccaneers will indeed move on from Winston, but Brady won’t be the answer. The Bucs have too many holes to fill on defense, the offensive line needs a sustainable upgrade, and the team needs a running back. Tampa is currently sitting with just under $85 million in cap space and that money will go fast to address all of their needs.
Las Vegas Raiders– The Raiders are moving into a new home next season, taking the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas for their 2020 campaign. Las Vegas is a city of stars, and bringing in Brady would be a beneficial for the team that is looking for a way to compete in the same division as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for the foreseeable future.
Jon Gruden has long been a fan of the brilliance of Brady, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the Raiders are ready to make a move for the Patriots quarterback should he officially hit the market. The Raiders drafted well last season, and find themselves with two 2020 first round picks and the salary cap space to do some further damage. The team makes sense for Brady and the market is one he could exploit as well.
With the upcoming NFL Entry Draft in Las Vegas, it would be quite the coup for the Raiders to have their new prized possession on hand.
New England Patriots – Returning to the Patriots continues to be a logical outcome. Brady’s play declined in 2019, no question about it. Much was made of the Patriots’ lack of weapons. That argument has merits, but Brady also missed a ton of throws that league-average passers are expected to make. The reality is this: Brady completed fewer passes than expected based on, among other things, the separation of his receivers, the pressure he’s facing, and the length of his attempts. He ranked 26th in on-target throw percentage, per Sports Info Solutions. His completion percentage over expectation finished at -3.1%–the eight worst mark in the league, according to Next Gen Stats.
Something was wrong with the Patriots offense all season. A midseason move to acquire Mohammed Sanu for a future second-round pick turned out to be a disaster. N’Keal Harry, only the second wide receiver drafted by the Patriots in the first round during the Belichick era, could not get on the same page with Brady.
Brady doesn’t have time to watch young guys grow, he needs help now. Whether the Patriots can acquire that help or not this offseason is the question. Where will Tom Brady play next season is another. The answer is not the New England Patriots.
1. Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season? – The Answer
Los Angeles Chargers – This is my answer to “Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season?”. When talk initially started that Brady would become a free agent this offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers immediately jumped to mind as a potential destination.
The Chargers have moved on from Philip Rivers and are in desperate need of something or someone to generate some interest in this organization. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Chargers have struggled to consistently fill their temporary home at Dignity Health Sports Park, which has a capacity of 27,000.
In 2020, they’ll move into SoFi Stadium along with the Los Angeles Rams and will need to fill more than 70,000 seats. To help finance SoFi Stadium, the Chargers, who will be co-tenants with the Los Angeles Rams, are expected to kick in $400 Million from the sale of personal seat licenses (PSL’s). PSL’s give their owners the right to buy season tickets.
The Chargers are reportedly currently $300 million short of that projection. Where will the team find the money to cover the shortfall and pay for its share of the stadium? The agreement between the Chargers and the Rams says there is a predetermined formula that will be used to calculate how much of the shortfall in PSL revenue will be made up by each team. Based on the formula, the Chargers will make up their end of the difference from their share of stadium revenue.
If the Chargers’ PSL sales fall dramatically short, the Rams will help cover part of the cost, but the Chargers will still be on the hook for the vast majority. The Rams will control the stadium’s operations and will have had no trouble selling PSL’s, from which they could rake in north of $500 million.
Brady is from California, and would undoubtedly bring the star power that the Chargers need to sell tickets. The Chargers will undoubtedly be tempted to give Brady a monster offer should he decide to leave New England. A contract offer of 2-year $40 Million/season is not out of the question.
For Brady, this deal enables him to relocate to Southern California, and directly into the second largest media market in the United States. If Brady wants to win another Super Bowl, this move likely isn’t his best option. If he wants to cash in and set himself up for his post-football career, it likely is. The answer to the question of “Where Will Tom Brady Play Next Season” is Los Angeles.