Tom Brady made it clear to the world Tuesday that he’s leaving New England after two decades, three league MVPs and six Super Bowl rings.
Left unsaid: where he’s headed.
What team wouldn’t want the four-time Super Bowl MVP? Only one will get arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, the man dubbed TB12.
Here’s a look at six teams that should be interested in the 42-year-old signal caller. Call them the Brady Bunch (listed by best odds of landing him, according to BetOnline):
TAMPA BAY (2/3)
The Buccaneers are the clear front-runner to land Brady and are among the teams with the most salary cap space in the league.
Tampa Bay led the league in passing despite Jameis Winston becoming the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season. The Bucs have two dynamic receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as two capable tight ends, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Winston’s contract has expired.
Coach Bruce Arians has also worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, creating a reputation as a QB whisperer. His offense places high emphasis on pushing the ball down the field, something some believe would make Brady less than an ideal fit.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3/2)
The Chargers have moved on from Philip Rivers and are going into their new stadium with the Rams in Inglewood, California. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Chargers have struggled to make a footprint in Los Angeles and need a big splash in order to sell seats, especially when visiting teams had a huge advantage because LA played in the tiny confines of Dignity Health Sports Park.
Los Angeles might have the most attractive set of skill players of the teams vying for Brady. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams each topped 1,000 yards receiving, while Austin Ekeler is one of the more versatile running backs in the league. Tight end Hunter Henry also was a dependable safety net for Rivers. The biggest question is the offensive line, which isn’t conducive to a not-so-mobile quarterback.
SAN FRANCISCO (8/1)
Joining the 49ers would be a homecoming for Brady, who grew up in the Bay Area and was in attendance at Candlestick Park for “The Catch” that led to the Niners’ first Super Bowl title in January 1982. But it seems like a long shot with Brady’s former backup Jimmy Garoppolo entrenched as the starter.
Garoppolo did struggle in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl loss to Kansas City and wasn’t asked to do much besides hand off in the first two playoff games — a sign that coach Kyle Shanahan might not have complete trust in his quarterback.
But Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have been public in their support of Garoppolo and are unlikely to backtrack to sign a short-term solution.
The Dolphins have the No. 5 pick in the draft and hope to land a franchise quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick plans to return and provide a veteran bridge to a young QB, but Brady would be a more glamorous option for that role. Brady also would make the Dolphins instantly relevant after many years of mediocrity.
Owner Stephen Ross, like Brady, is a Michigan man. But a year ago Ross said the Dolphins were going to quit chasing stopgap solutions and build for the long term, which was what their painful 2019 roster dismantling was all about.
The Dolphins lead the NFL in salary cap space and have five picks in the first two rounds of the draft, so they could improve quickly after going 5-11 last year. But they’re likely at least another year from playoff contention, and at the moment the offensive line is awful, raising doubts about how much appeal Miami would have for Brady.
Ross addressed speculation about Brady to Miami in late January.
“We’re a team now that’s building,” Ross said. “I don’t know why he’d really want to come to the Dolphins. He’s probably one of the fiercest competitors there is, and we’re at the stage with the Dolphins where we’re trying to build a team for the future.”
Bears general manager Ryan Pace has said he is committed to Mitchell Trubisky, though he didn’t rule out bringing in an experienced veteran to push him. Brady figures to command a higher price tag than Chicago is able to pay. A more likely acquisition for Chicago would be someone like Andy Dalton.
Plus, the Bears had one of the NFL’s worst offenses in 2019 and have few pieces outside receiver Allen Robinson. That makes many believe there’s little chance Brady would want to play out the twilight of his illustrious career in the Windy City.
The Cowboys are last on this list because owner Jerry Jones compared Dak Prescott to a family member when asked the ever-present question about a new contract for his star quarterback at the combine. Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said recently the pursuit of Brady wasn’t even a thought because of the club’s commitment to Prescott.
While it’s fathomable to think the Cowboys would rescind the franchise tag to pursue Brady, there’s no reason to believe Dallas doesn’t want to give Prescott a long-term deal. Jerry Jones has often said it’s just a matter of time on finding that common ground.
When coach Mike McCarthy was hired to replace Jason Garrett in January, it didn’t take him long to say he believes Prescott is capable of winning a championship. While he doesn’t have quite the skill set McCarthy utilized in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, Prescott was the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and is a two-time Pro Bowler who broke through with his first playoff win during the 2018 season.
Prescott is also coming off his best season statistically, with career highs of 4,902 yards passing (second in NFL) and 30 touchdowns (fourth).
AP Pro Football Writers Mark Long, Schuyler Dixon and Josh Dubow, and Sports Writers Fred Goodall, Andrew Seligman, Joe Reedy and Steven Wine contributed.