Where Will Tom Brady Play in 2020? Odds and Predictions
Tom Brady removed a little of the drama from the offseason when he announced on Wednesday morning on Instagram that he wasn't done yet. It was hard to believe that he was going to retire anyway, but some people were certainly speculating that he would. Now that it seems clear that he is coming back, and the question remains where he will play. It seems impossible that he would ever play anywhere other than New England, but then you could have said the save thing about Peyton Manning and Indianapolis or Brett Favre and Green Bay. For the first time, though, it feels truly possible that he won't be wearing those distinctive colors next year. And any move he makes would instantly be the football story of the year.
It makes sense on a few levels that he might consider moving on. For one thing, he is able to now for the first time ever in a real way. He is a true free agent, and the team can't do anything to hold him back. He has freedom of choice like he has never really had since he was in high school choosing a college. You can't be a guy like him and not wonder if there is another system that could be just a little better. Now he has a chance - his last chance, in all likelihood - to find out. That could be tough to resist.
For a few reasons, New England might not be as attractive as it has been, either. The offensive talent has some massive shortcomings, and the path to fixing them may not be that easy. They certainly struggled to address the receiver woes this season. Brady needs tools around him to succeed, and the last few weeks of the season proved he is short of them. The team has already lost one offensive coach, receiver coach Joe Judge, as he has taken over the Giants. And it certainly seems like this could be the year Josh McDaniels could leave as well. With a small window left, Brady likely wouldn't be too keen on breaking in a new coaching staff with questionable talent. Plus, the Dolphins, Bills and Jets are all showing signs of increased competence, so the division may not be as easy as it has always been. Add it all up, and you can actually start to believe he will move. But change is hard - for teams and players - so it still feels like a bit of a long shot. The odds reflect that as well - he is at -300 to be on the opening roster of the Patriots and at +200 to leave.
Let's ignore that ultimately it probably makes more sense to stick with what he knows, even if it isn't familiar. Let's speculate about where he might wind up, and where the betting value might lie:
L.A. Chargers (+200): I will say up front that I would bet strongly that he winds up back in New England. But if he does move, then this makes so much sense it almost has to happen. The Chargers are ready to move on from Philip Rivers by all accounts, and they need to find a way to make a statement in a market that hasn't exactly rushed to embrace them. Bringing a hero back home to California would certainly be a start. The transition from Rivers to Brady would be a pretty smooth one for the team, and Brady would have a much-improved group of receivers to work with. It's a team that should be winning more than it is, so he could easily convince himself that he can be the difference. And maybe he would be right.
Dallas Cowboys (+700): I am not a big Dak Prescott guy, but I just don't see why the Cowboys would move on from him. They seem to like him, he has not been the reason they have struggled, and their new choice of head coaches indicates that they aren't looking to make bold, splashy moves. This price makes no sense.
Las Vegas Raiders (+700): This, I could see in some ways. Carr and the Raiders are clearly not a love match. The team is breaking into a new market, and this would certainly buy them some attention. I'd worry, though, that Jon Gruden would fear that Vegas isn't big enough for both his ego and Brady and that Brady wouldn't be thrilled with being part of the Gruden circus. I can't rule it out, but the price isn't right.
Indianapolis Colts (+800): Jacoby Brissett probably isn't a long-term answer in Indy, so Brady could buy them some time until they figure out who is. Given the long rivalry Brady has had with the Colts, though, and his ties to McDaniels, who burned the Colts at the altar, this might not be the most popular move.
Carolina Panthers (+900): I would have been much more into this idea until they hired Matt Rhule - who, incidentally, will be a great coach for them. He's a top mind looking to build for the long term and has the contract to give him the room to do so. He will not look to bring in the one guy who could overshadow him early on. And Rhule's offensive style is more dynamic than what Brady offers. Horrible price.
Cleveland Browns (+900): If McDaniels takes this job, it could be a good fit. But the team still has Baker Mayfield and can't have given up on him after one rough year. Brady feels too complicated here, and McDaniels needs to have a longer-term view.
Miami Dolphins (+1400): In terms of long shot value, you can't beat this. The Dolphins are on the rise and have a coach he knows well. They are loaded with draft picks to provide more help, too. It almost makes too much sense - draft Tua, give him a redshirt to recover from his hip injury, and let him learn under the best there has ever been while the team learns how to contend. If Brady's relationship with New England has soured like it appears at times it is starting to, then this would be a great way to show them who is boss on the way out. It probably won't happen, but it's fun to think about.
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