There are some big storylines in the NFL this offseason, from the Raiders leaving Oakland to move to Las Vegas to the collective bargaining negotiations between the league’s owners and its players. The biggest, however, might very well be the upcoming free agency of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: the 42-year-old is just 12 days away from hitting the open market for the first time in his career, and people are paying close attention.
Will he stay with the Patriots in 2020 and beyond?
Will he leave New England after 20 seasons?
Where will he go if he says goodbye to the team with which he won six Super Bowls?
The questions are not expected to get answered until closer to the start of free agency on March 18, but the speculation is rampant as no option appears to be off the table just yet. That being said, if the oddsmakers are to be believed, Brady will eventually end up staying put: according to latest numbers released by BetOnline, the Patriots are still the favorites to keep the future Hall of Famer in the fold for at least another season.
The Patriots are 10/13 favorites to have Brady under center once the regular season begins in September:
New England Patriots: 10/13
Tennessee Titans: 5/1
Las Vegas Raiders: 6/1
Los Angeles Chargers: 6/1
Indianapolis Colts: 9/1
San Francisco 49ers: 10/1
Seeing the Patriots come in atop the list is no surprise: they have exclusive negotiating rights with Brady until the opening of the NFL’s legal tampering window on March 16. While there have been conflicting reports about early discussions between player and team, there is still considerable time to figure out a way to keep Brady around — ideally before free agency begins and New England has to swallow a $13.5 million signing bonus proration (a number that would be split up between 2020 and 2021 if the quarterback re-signs earlier).
That being said, Brady leaving New England is a realistic scenario. In that case, the odds suggest that the Patriots will look to New Orleans for his replacement:
Teddy Bridgewater: 3/1
Ryan Tannehill: 7/2
Marcus Mariota: 5/1
Andy Dalton: 6/1
Jarrett Stidham: 7/1
Derek Carr: 8/1
As has been pointed out before here at Pats Pulpit, the Patriots’ Plan B being Stidham would make sense despite his relative inexperience. He would cost just a fraction of the projected contracts the other passers listed above would receive if allowed to hit the open market, after all, which would allow New England to build a deeper supporting cast for the former fourth-round draft pick and new starting quarterback.
Ideally, however, the Patriots will not have to worry about this scenario.