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No, Tom Brady will not be the Patriots’ quarterback in 2023

Could TB12 make his triumphant return to New England? Don’t count on it.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

No, it will not happen. Sorry to burst that bubble.

Tom Brady will not be the New England Patriots’ quarterback in 2023. That ship left Boston Harbor back in 2019 and it ain’t coming back anytime soon.

Sure, Brady might one day return to One Patriot Place to sign an actual contract. However, if anything it will go down like it did with fellow ex-Patriot Willie McGinest in 2015: it will be a ceremonious one-day deal after he eventually, finally, decides to call it a career.

Until then, the only chance to see Brady in a Patriots uniform will be the upcoming 80 For Brady movie.

OK, all of that might have been a tad overdramatic. But you get the idea: in light of Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exiting the NFL playoffs on Monday in rather unceremonious fashion, there is speculation that he might have played his final down for the team he joined after leaving the Patriots in 2019.

Surely enough, one of the teams mentioned as a potential landing spot for the soon-to-be free agent is his old one. The Patriots are listed as +750 favorites to land him, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, giving them the fourth best odds out of the league’s 32 teams.

However, him landing with the three teams ahead of them on that list — Tampa Bay (+200), Las Vegas (+250), San Francisco (+350) — is a far more realistic outlook. All you need to do to come to that conclusion is look at the circumstances surrounding each of those franchises two months removed from Brady entering the open market.

The Buccaneers are obvious given that they rostered Brady for the last three years and he helped transform the formerly moribund franchise into a perennial NFC South champion and, most importantly, Super Bowl winner. Despite the tone of his press conference after Monday’s 31-14 playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys, a lot speaks for him finishing his active career down in Florida.

As for the Raiders and 49ers, they are both in relative quarterback limbo at the moment.

Las Vegas has all but moved on from long-term quarterback Derek Carr, and unless the team sees another former Patriot — Jarrett Stidham — as its future pursuing Brady even at age 46 makes some sense. After all, it would give the team a capable stopgap option alongside a possible high draft pick and reunite Brady with his long-time offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in New England, Josh McDaniels.

Add the fact that the Raiders have a talented supporting cast led by All-Pro wideout Davante Adams, and you get why the Silver and Black make sense as a landing spot. In case he actually does join McDaniels’ team, by the way, Brady would play the Patriots in the 2023 regular season.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are facing questions at QB as well. While rookie passer Brock Purdy has the team within two wins of a Super Bowl appearance, his performances in one of the most quarterback-friendly offenses in football have been up and down.

Is he a potential franchise player? Maybe, but that is not a given. The same is true for 2021 first-round draft pick Trey Lance, whose first two seasons in the league have effectively been wiped out by a mix of developmental status — he was rather raw coming out of North Dakota State — and injury.

Lance might still be the guy. Who knows, maybe Purdy is? But unless the 49ers go all the way and win the Super Bowl this year, committing to either of them for 2023 is a relatively tough sell.

Adding Brady to the mix to essentially replace another former backup of his, Jimmy Garoppolo, would therefore also make some sense. It also would bring Brady’s career full circle; he being the Bay Area kid who grew up rooting for the Joe Montana-led 49ers.

Which brings us to the Patriots, and the reason for the emphatic “No!” expressed earlier.

Mac Jones may or may not be the team’s long-term answer at quarterback, but the organization seems committed to building around him heading into his third year in the league. And even if he falls flat in 2023 and it becomes clear that he is not the next guy at the most important spot on the team, what use would bringing Brady in have?

Would he be the starter over Jones in 2023? If so, how would you assess the youngster with the fifth-year decision coming up? And what about the benefits of having a somewhat experienced starting QB on a rookie deal?

New England head coach Bill Belichick pulled the plug on the Brady era back in the 2020 offseason — or, more accurately, earlier than that when he decided not to sign him to a new longer-term deal. Him now trying to pull it back in does seem out of character, despite the uncertainty surrounding Jones’ long-term outlook. Bringing Brady back would not change the need to find a solution at quarterback.

Belichick and the Patriots have never been afraid to make the unconventional move. Re-signing a soon-to-be 46-year-old Tom Brady coming off the second-worst loss of his playoff career would be just that.

Ultimately, though, it also would be a move that makes little sense outside of nostalgic reasons.