Over a year ago, Tom Brady changed the course of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' franchise forever.
Apparently, things were very close to turning out much differently.
ESPN's Jeff Darlington, who covered Brady's free agency in 2020 extensively, appeared on the show "Get Up" this week and shared a detail that Buccaneers fans may find repulsive: Brady seriously considered signing with Tampa Bay's NFC South rival, the New Orleans Saints, last March.
Darlington's full excerpt on the subject can be read below.
“Regret might be a strong word because, ultimately, Drew Brees decided to delay his broadcasting career a year and come back for one more season. The Saints did the right thing by bringing Brees back. But I think that people still underestimate how close Tom Brady was to signing with the New Orleans Saints up until he ultimately decided on the Bucs. I know that that’s gonna be a statement that people try to question. It’s the truth. And here’s the deal: Sean Payton cannot look back and [not] say ‘Man, I would’ve loved to have Tom Brady last year because it would also have meant that I have him for a few more years moving forward. No question in my mind, the Saints, despite understanding they did what they had to do, there is a little bit of—let’s call it regret—that Tom Brady is not their quarterback.”
In the end, the Bucs would win out for Brady's services as he signed a two-year, $50 million deal with Tampa Bay that month, while the Saints elected to retain Brees for one more season before his retirement this past March.
Ironically for New Orleans, despite sweeping Brady and the Bucs throughout the 2020 regular season, it was Tampa Bay that had the last laugh as the Buccaneers defeated the Saints in Brees' final NFL game, in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs in January. In New Orleans.
The Saints are now left with former Buccaneers' first overall pick Jameis Winston and gadget-player Taysom Hill competing to become their starting quarterback, while Brady signed a contract extension with the Bucs in March. Winston and Hill may be serviceable, but have massive shoes to fill as QB1 in New Orleans' offense.
In which case, a feeling of regret - as Darlington puts it - certainly makes sense after Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl LV victory this past season.
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