It’s been incredible 20 years for the New England Patriots with Tom Brady behind center and Bill Belichick running the show from the sidelines.
Brady had a 219-64 record in the regular season while winning 10 games or more in every year since 2001, except 2002 (9-7) and 2008 (1-0–torn ACL in his left knee). He went 30-11 in the postseason with six Super Bowl titles. Brady ranks second all-time in passing yards (74,571) and second in passing TDs (541).
Over the same period, Belichick went 232-72 with 17 straight seasons of 10 wins or more.
As great as the Patriots finished in 2019 by their record (12-4), it is clear New England lacked the receiving talent to give Brady the best chance to win and score points. He had his lowest completion rate (60.8) since 2004, while gaining only 6.8 yards per pass attempt (9.3 in 2016, 8.4 in 2017, and 7.8 in 2018).
Within the next week or so, there should be a power shift at QB in the NFL. Here’s a look at the top five teams in competition to sign Brady by the odds set by Odds Shark:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-150)
The move to Tampa makes a ton of sense for Brady. He’s at the twilight of his career with no sign of hope in the Patriots saving their receiving core this offseason. The Bucs have a dynamic WR with size, big play and scoring ability in Mike Evans. Chris Godwin turned into a beast in 2019 (86/1333/9), and Jameis Winston struggled to make tight end O.J. Howard relevant last year. In 2019, Winston passed for 5,109 yards with 30 TDs. Unfortunately, he completed 30 passes to his opponents as well.
Brady hasn’t thrown more than 14 INTs in any season of his career. Over his previous six seasons, covering 92 games, he threw 45 interceptions.
The Bucs want Brady in a big way, and they will let him have as much input into the team as he feels he needs. Tampa should also offer him the most upfront money.
New England Patriots (+110)
There is no disputing the connection to the Patriots, and there is something to be said for playing a full career with one franchise. Going back to New England would almost be a rinse and repeat of 2019.
Last year, some Patriots fans lost their minds late in the year while looking like spoiled brats. Brady gave the Boston area one of the greatest runs in sports history over two decades, but New England fans decided to boo him late in the season. I understand the goal is to win the Super Bowl. At the same time, Patriots’ fans needed to show class in support of their great quarterback.
The only saving grace for a decision to play again in New England is the value of their opponents in AFC East. The Jets only has one winning season over the past decade. Miami has two playoff appearances since Brady took over as the starting QB. The Bills made the postseason twice over the last three years, which came after sitting on the sidelines in January for 17 straight years.
Los Angeles Chargers (+600)
The dark horse in Brady’s decision has to be the Chargers. They have a great pass-catching back with Austin Ekeler, which fits what Brady likes to do with the short passing game. L.A. also has a pair of talented WRs in Kennan Allen and Mike Williams, plus Hunter Henry adds value to the passing game from the tight end position.
The move to the AFC West would create some intrigue with a direct battle with Patrick Mahomes for the division title and possibly a postseason berth.
The problem for Philip Rivers late in his career is the lack of a passing window due to a questionable offensive line.
If given a choice between New England and the Chargers, the scale would tilt in favor of the team with better offensive weapons.
San Francisco 49ers (+1000)
I get the attraction to get Brady back to where he grew up, but the 49ers don’t need him to win the Super Bowl. San Francisco is a team on the rise with a more-than-capable young QB. New England fans would take a straight trade for Jimmy Garoppolo for Brady if given the opportunity.
Las Vegas Raiders (+1200)
As much as the Raiders would like to create more buzz with their move to Las Vegas in 2020, the team isn’t set up right for Brady to make that type of move. He doesn’t need more money, and the Raiders are not really in a position to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Their receiving core behind tight end Darren Waller lacks name value and firepower. Hunter Renfroe would fit well with Brady’s style, but I don’t see enough trust and upside in Tyrell Williams.
Indianapolis Colts (+1800)
I can’t think of one reason why a player of Brady’s status would want to finish out his career in Indy. I like their coach, but if that were the case, I’d go on another dance with Belichick.
Chicago Bears (+5000)
The Bears do have talent at running back with two viable attractions at wide receiver–Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. I don’t view riding off into the sunset coming in another cold, windy city.
Dallas Cowboys (+5000)
If all pieces to the offensive puzzle returned in 2020 and Dak Prescott decided to holdout, Brady would be an excellent fit for the Cowboys. They run the ball well with talent on the offensive line and at the receiving positions.
In the end, I have to believe Brady finishes his career in Tampa Bay. The offensive pieces make too much sense, and the Bucs will just about hand him the keys to the city to get a deal done.
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