Dak Prescott may be the top free agent of the NFL offseason, but no player is more interesting to watch in the coming weeks than Tom Brady.
The soon-to-be-43-year-old has spent his entire career with the New England Patriots, but now it appears as though he will play for a new team. On Tuesday morning, he said his goodbyesto Patriots fans, so the question is where he might land.
Two early teams with connections to Brady were the Titans and 49ers, although they've since closed the door on bringing in the future Hall of Famer. Brady's friend and former teammate Mike Vrabel is now Tennessee's head coach, but the Titans agreed to a massive four-year, $118 million extension with Ryan Tannehill, which included $91 million guaranteed, on Sunday. Meanwhile, Brady grew up rooting for the 49ers in northern California, but the reigning NFC champs recently signaled their intent to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
It's unclear how much longer Brady will be able to play, although in 2017, he said he aimed to play until he was 45, if not longer. Regardless of his age, though, he's still been an effective passer, albeit not at the elite level he once reached. He ranked 17th last season in QBR (53.7), 13th in yards per game (253.6), and seventh in interception rate (1.3 percent), although his completion rate (60.8 percent) and yards per attempt (6.6) were lacking.
Is this the beginning of the end for Brady's stellar career? Or will he be able to rejuvenate himself with a much stronger receiving corps than he had in New England last season? Let's take a look at Brady's possible landing spots.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are the odds-on favorite to sign Brady, and it's easy to see how fun the combination would be. Bruce Arians helped revive Carson Palmer's career and Arizona and aided Jameis Winston in reaching the 5K club (don't worry about the interceptions). Brady would have a field day with weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard at his disposal.
Tampa Bay also isn't that far away from contending. The Bucs finished three games out of the playoffs last season but were eighth in the NFC in point differential. With a seventh playoff team added in 2020, that puts them right on the brink of the playoffs even before considering the upgrade to Brady. With a potentially rebuilding or retooling Panthers team the Falcons losing several key offensive players, the NFC South is very much up for grabs. And with Tampa Bay using the franchise tag on All-Pro pass rusher Shaquil Barrett instead of Winston, it seems the team is ready to make a change at quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers already said goodbye to their veteran quarterback, but who's to say they won't bring in a new one? Brady could make a return to California with an impressive receiving corps of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry, who was tagged by the team. The Chargers were contenders in 2018 but suffered terrible luck in '19 (5-11 record despite a minus-eight point differential, seventh-best in the AFC), and Philip Rivers' 20 interceptions didn't help.
One note is that Los Angeles has been rumored to be targetting a quarterback in the NFL draft, perhaps Oregon's Justin Herbert. First-round quarterbacks have started games in their first season almost without fail in recent years, but a season or two under Brady could be one of the best ways to develop; just ask Aaron Rodgers.
Would Brady really sign with the team best known for having his biggest rival, Peyton Manning? Stranger things have happened; Brett Favre ended his career with the Vikings. The Colts are making a playoff push, and Jacoby Brissett isn't the answer. They were one of the teams to reportedly have interest in Philip Rivers, but Brady would be a massive upgrade.
Brady wouldn't quite have the array of weapons he would at the other destinations, but T.Y. Hilton and the young Parris Campbell would at least be an interesting start. And with the Texans trading away DeAndre Hopkins for cheap, the AFC South is very much up for grabs. [Editor's note: On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that Rivers had come to an agreement with Indianapolis on a one-year, $25 million contract.]
The Bears have been reportedly talking to Teddy Bridgewater about a deal to make him their starting quarterback, so they're in the market to upgrade over former No. 2 pick Mitchell Trubisky. Brady isn't as young as Bridgewater, but he likely gives the team a higher ceiling while their defense is still operating in peak form.
Chicago could use some help at quarterback too. The franchise has never had a 10-game starter post a passer rating above 96, and they've only reached the 90-point threshold twice since 1996. Brady may no longer be in MVP form, but he's a massive step up from what the Bears have had in recent years.