Sadly, it actually happened. On Tuesday, March 17th, Tom Brady announced via Instagram that his football career would not continue on the New England Patriots. A few days later, Tom Brady signed a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth 50 million guaranteed over 2 years with another 9 million in incentives.
Brady is joining a team that has not made the playoffs since the 2007 season and has not had a playoff win since they won Super Bowl 37 in January 2003. In the 2019 season, Tampa Bay finished 7-9 and was mainly held back by mistake-prone quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw a league-leading 30 interceptions. Winston’s many interceptions proved too much to overcome in many of their losing games. Aside from Winston, Tampa Bay has the potential to contend with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and running back Ronald Jones II; as well as an above-average defense. This group is talented, however, not talented enough to make up for a liability at quarterback. This is what pushed them to sign Tom Brady, a quarterback who brings consistency to this group and is an upgrade for the Buccaneers, provided he keeps playing at his current level.
In Foxborough, times are tough for the Patriots fanbase. Fans who have been spoiled with decades of consistent winning, deep playoff runs, and duck boat parades now face something foreign – uncertainty. What will this team be like without Brady? With Brady leaving, the team now turns to either the second-year pro, Jarrett Stidham or career backup Brian Hoyer; neither of whom holds a torch to the legacy of Tom Brady but may be serviceable short-term options.
The Patriots have also lost other key free agents on defense including Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Duron Harmon. However, the Patriots still have half of the powerful duo that dominated the NFL for 2 decades – Head Coach Bill Belichick. Belichick is a football genius and if any coach can make a contender out of this group again, it is him. While these losses do hurt the team, the Patriots have overcome lots of personnel turnover throughout their impressive run. The one constant to the team in terms of players has been Tom Brady and with his departure, Belichick will face his biggest test; can he keep the dynasty going without Brady or will he struggle to take this team back to the Super Bowl?
In Brady’s tenure, the Patriots have won six Super Bowls while appearing in nine, and they have won the AFC East Division 17 times in 19 seasons. This display of dominance is something the NFL will never see again and Tom Brady was an integral part of this immense success.
For young Patriots fans, this will be the first time they see the Patriots without Tom Brady in 20 years, and it will be an odd sight to see. While right now we might be feeling sad seeing Brady leave we should be happy for the time he spent with the Patriots and the many great memories he has given us.
Thank you, Tom Brady, you will be missed.