Despite owning every imaginable record in the book and already having cemented his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady has shown no signs of slowing down. So, if he wants to continue his career beyond 2022, the 45-year-old would become one of the hottest names on the free agent market yet again.
His plans are a mystery right now, but the expectation is that he would have several suitors if he decides to keep playing a 24th season and take his talents elsewhere after a three-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Could his old home be a landing spot? It seems unlikely given that the New England Patriots appear to be committed to building around sophomore QB Mac Jones, but as a recent story by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe mentions: don’t count anything out when it comes to the Brady-Bill Belichick dynamic.
Brady and Bill Belichick still have an abundance of respect for one another. They’ve made points to say it publicly on multiple occasions since the QB departed for Tampa. They also spent 23 minutes together in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium following Brady’s return in 2021 — an appointment they set up prior to the game.
The Patriots are slated to have more than $100 million in cap space in 2023, so they can again address their flaws, this time on the heels of a couple impressive draft classes.
From that perspective, the Patriots would make sense as a landing spot for the future Hall of Famer. That said, as Howe pointed out there would be issues to work through.
Those issues would be tied to New England’s offense, which is currently run jointly by Matt Patricia as play-caller and offensive line coach and QB coach Joe Judge, as well as Mac Jones being on the roster as the supposed quarterback of the future.
For Brady, he’d have to know the offense is in capable hands. There have been criticisms of Matt Patricia’s first season as a play caller — plenty warranted, others exaggerated — and Brady benefited by an abundance of stability with the offensive coordinator in New England. He’d either need to be comfortable with Patricia or push for a reunion with someone like Bill O’Brien, currently the Alabama offensive coordinator, to ensure he’s not wasting a season as a 46-year-old. Sure, Brady would return to run his offense, but he can’t also coordinate it.
For the Patriots, they should want clarity on Brady’s future. Is he going year to year? Do they need to fully guarantee a second season, something Belichick wouldn’t do before Brady walked in 2020?
Realistically, the Patriots wouldn’t even need to trade Mac Jones, whose rookie contract runs through 2024 plus the fifth-year option in 2025. While they certainly could — and as is the case with many starting quarterbacks, they’d start the trade conversations with the hopes of recouping a first-round pick — there’d be loads of value in Jones learning from Brady.
Maybe it’s a long shot. There might be better situations for Brady. But just when you think you’ve got Belichick figured out, he does something no one sees coming.
So, would the Patriots enter the Tom Brady sweepstakes if they took place again next March? That is impossible to say four months out and with several weeks of NFL action still to take place.
What we do know, however, is that a reunion would be a shocker regardless.