Thursday, December 12, 2019

Brady Now More Likely To Leave Than Retire

For a while it has appeared that 2019 will be Tom Brady's last season in New England. Mostly I thought retirement was the most likely outcome. But now I'm thinking the odds have shifted on his future.

I have come to believe that the most likely scenario is Brady leaving to play somewhere else in 2020. There is a lot of evidence already in place, which I'll list here but not rehash. (A) His contract was re-done so it expires after this year. (B) He and his trainer (Alex Guerrero) put their houses up for sale. (C) He resigned from the local chapter of Best Buddies charity.

In the past few weeks, two new things popped up that helped sway me to believe that TB12 might leave for another team.

The first is that he started making noise about playing until he was 47. My thinking had been that if he was only going to play until 45 (as he asserted previously), it didn't make sense to leave the Pats for a rebuild project somewhere else. If he did that, it would take a year or two to rebuild the new team. And that would give him just one or two shots at another Super Bowl win.

However, if he is planning to play until 47, a one/two-year rebuild gives him three or four shots at another Super Bowl in the new location. IMO, that is a much more attractive option for Brady.

The second thing is that Tom Brady, Sr. said publicly that his son wants to continue playing after this year. He could be wrong, but something tells me he has more information than most when it comes to Tom Jr.'s decision.

Putting these two new facts into the mix changes the picture significantly. I previously thought there was a 50% chance he'd retire, a 40% chance he come back to New England, and a 10% chance he'd play somewhere else.

Now I think it's more like a 60% chance he'll play somewhere else, a 30% chance he'll be back with the Pats, and a 10% chance he'll retire. IMO he is now twice as likely to leave than to stay.

(Note: I have no inside information about this. Zero, zilch, nada, bagel! This is just me putting together information that is known to the public.)

If Brady leaves, the question then becomes which team he would play for in 2020. Here are the three strongest contenders, in my opinion:

1. Miami Dolphins. He knows a lot of the coaching staff there, the weather is much nicer, and they have plenty of salary cap space to pay him absolute top dollar. This would also give him two games a year against the Jets and Bills, teams he has absolutely owned over the years.

A bonus for him might be the chance to stick it to the Patriots twice a year. But that is a double-edged sword -- as he'd have to face Belichick, the greatest coach of all time. No easy task.

2. Tennessee Titans. They have a defense that's ready for prime time, and are a QB away from being a legitimate contender. And as well as Ryan Tannehill has played for them, the organization should be honest with itself about his ceiling. This year is more likely fool's gold than actual treasure.

A huge bonus would be that this division is always (and I mean *always*) mediocre. Since 2013, no team has won 12 games in a season. And multiple division champs were 9-7 during that time. In other words, Brady would *own* this division for the foreseeable future.

3. Los Angeles Chargers. The team moves into a new stadium next year, but they are an afterthought to the LA Rams. Signing Brady would get fans into the stands. And he'd be able to expand his TB12 health centers to the west coast.

The downside is that he'd always be on the "afterthought" team in LA -- because the owner of the stadium owns the Rams. And he'd have to face stronger competition in the AFC West than the AFC South.

Lastly, don't think I'm bummed about this. The media plays it up like it would be a disaster to lose Brady. But that attitude does two things that I don't like.

First, it takes away from watching him and the team now. If fans started worrying about the future when Brady first started to decline, they wouldn't have enjoyed the last three Super Bowls as much as they could.

Second, it assumes that the Patriots will be lost without Brady. I don't think that will ever be true as long as Belichick is in New England.

I've said for years that Belichick gets you to the playoffs almost every year. But it's Belichick/Brady that got the team to nine Super Bowls and won six Championships.

Without Brady, Belichick probably would have won one or two Super Bowls. So without Brady going forward, don't expect the Pats to fall off a cliff.

I still hope Brady doesn't leave. But if it does, get ready for: "We're on to Stidham."

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. 10-3!

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