Tom Brady is leaving. I’ve said it a million times today, and it hurts every time. I still don’t really believe it, and I don’t think it will really hit me until training camp starts, and there is a different guy under center. But that is not what this story is about. This story is about why Brady decided to leave the New England Patriots, and I have been putting it off all day. It’s been impossible to push myself to write it, but I needed to get it out there. If you think Brady leaving was all about money, you’re sorely mistaken.
There’s a lot more at play here than just money.
The first, and biggest, reason he’s leaving is Bill Belichick. It’s not because he had a terrible relationship with Belichick, or was tired of being here. It’s because Belichick was unwilling to give Brady too much money or a long-term commitment. What it looks like is that New England’s head coach thought Brady would be a good piece to have this season, but possibly didn’t want to invest too many resources in the long term. I had thought all along that if New England really wanted him for one year, but Brady wanted two, that the Patriots should just give him two years.
Does that sound like something Belichick would ever do? I thought maybe he’d make an exception for Brady, but he did not. He moved on a year early instead of a year late, something he has done countless times. Brady probably thought he would be treated differently, I know I did. In the end, however, Belichick handled the six-time world champion the way he has and just like everyone else.
However, even without the money or years he wanted, Brady might. have stayed. The second reason is why, when presented the option, he decided to leave.
Based on talent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a better chance of making a deep run this season than the Patriots. I almost puked writing that, but it’s true. Take the quarterback out of the equation, and you see why: tons of weapons of offense, young talented players on defense, and a conference that is wide open. Compare that to the Patriots, who have holes everywhere up and down the roster (offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker, safety), have probably the toughest schedule in the NFL this season, and play in an absolutely loaded conference.
Look at it this way: If the Patriots get hot and start to make a run, they very well might have to play the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs — two teams that they probably will not be able to beat in 2020, with or without Brady. Then look at the Bucs. If they get hot and make a run, they have to beat the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. Neither of those teams are pushovers, but, if we are ranking them against the Chiefs and Ravens, they are probably ranked below both of them.
The Bucs have a ton of offensive weapons, an ability to bring in more due to their salary cap situation, and a head coach who has worked with other great quarterbacks and had success. They kind of came out of left field, but the fit is oddly perfect for Brady.
So there you have it. Obviously, the Patriots not making a serious push to bring Brady back was a huge part of this, but, without the ability to realistically compete, I still think he would have come back. The Buccaneers give him a shot to compete, meanwhile, while also giving him a ton of money thus committing to him and his status on the team.
Losing Brady has ripped my heart out. I’m sure I can speak for most Patriots fans and say he’s the best thing that has ever happened to this organization. However, this move might actually be the best thing for both Brady and the Patriots. The team gets to move on and start the rebuilding process right now, and the quarterback gets to try to load up and compete for one more championship.
Are the Patriots worse today than they were yesterday? Unquestionably. But, would they have realistically competed for a championship with Brady this year? It’s far from a guarantee. If you want to blame Bill Belichick for that, you certainly can, but they have too many holes at the moment to have a real shot this season. It is going to be a long year, and Jarrett Stidham (or whomever is the starting quarterback) is going to be in an impossible situation trying to fill the shoes of the greatest player in NFL history.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
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