Photo Credits: KAITLYN PANG / AGGIE
Brady leaves Patriots after 20 seasons, joined by former teammate Gronkowski
One of the biggest headlines from this year’s NFL offseason is Tom Brady’s transition from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the morning of March 17, the former Patriots quarterback announced that after 20 seasons in New England, he was preparing to continue his NFL career elsewhere.
Speculation of Brady’s departure started to develop among fans in New England toward the end of what turned out to be his final season as a Patriot, as he was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2019–2020 season.
Just a few days after his announcement, it was confirmed that Brady had signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers, leaving the Patriots with the difficult task of somehow moving forward without their future hall-of-famer at quarterback.
Although Brady’s decision did not come as a huge surprise to Patriots fans, it was one that put him in rare company. Assuming that he finishes his career in Tampa Bay, Brady could potentially join a list of quarterbacks, such as Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana, who finished their football careers with other teams after each dedicating over a decade to the respective organizations they began with.
For Tampa Bay, Brady’s arrival can only be beneficial for a team that has never really posed a significant threat to the rest of the NFL. Brady will, however, be working with a new and improved offensive line, in addition to the powerful receiver duo of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
Godwin, who finished third in the NFL last season with 1,333 receiving yards, and Evans, who finished the season with 1,157 yards, will most likely be working with the new level of experience that Brady brings to the team to produce a productive offense for Tampa Bay going into next season.
This is especially true now that Brady’s former teammate and superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski announced that he would be coming out of retirement to reunite with Brady in Tampa Bay. Acquiring Brady was already advantageous enough for the Buccaneers, but the addition of one of the league’s best tight ends could prove to be the competitive boost that the Bucs needed going into next season.
In their time together on the Patriots, Gronkowski and Brady had an undeniable chemistry, one that Tampa Bay is hoping to continue. Since Gronkowski entered the league in 2010, the pair have connected for 78 touchdowns, by far the most Brady has thrown to any receiver in his career.
For New England, it faces the unfortunate reality of having to fill the gap that Brady left behind. Going into this year’s NFL draft, many assumed the Patriots would pick up a new quarterback to help fill the huge loss they had at the position, but were surprised to see that never happened.
Instead, the Patriots are most likely looking at 23-year-old gunslinger Jarrett Stidham, Brady’s backup from last season, to carry the team. It is obviously a huge shift to go from one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league to somebody who has only been in the NFL for one season and has yet to make his first regular season start.
The Patriots also have journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer as an option, who is now returning to New England for his third stint with the team. With Hoyer entering his 12th NFL season, Stidham likely presents a more viable option to develop at the quarterback position. The upside for the Patriots is that both Stidham and Hoyer have experience working with Brady and already have some knowledge of the New England system.
The Patriots did end up signing two free agent quarterbacks who went undrafted, but it is unlikely that either will be preferred over Stidham or Hoyer. New England’s disinterest in picking up a new quarterback in the draft could be interpreted as a show of confidence in Stidham and his ability to perform for the team.
Brady’s move to Tampa Bay will also now open the league to a new sense of competition. The Patriots have dominated the AFC East and the NFL in general since Brady became their starting quarterback and carried the team to nine super bowl appearances and six championships. But teams that have been overwhelmed by the Patriots for the last two decades now see a chance to compete for a postseason spot.
This move is also just one of a handful of changes seen in this year’s NFL draft at the quarterback position. With the addition of Brady, the Buccaneers let go of their former starting quarterback Jameis Winston — who was originally expected to receive a new contract — and has since signed with the Saints. Although this makes sense for Tampa Bay, it brings about the question of what New Orleans has planned for their current starter, Drew Brees, and his career going forward.
A similar situation arose in Green Bay, with the Packers surprisingly drafting quarterback Jordan Love from Utah State in the first round and raising similar questions of what the organization sees for the future of their veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Cincinnati Bengals, who went 2-14 last season, made the most expected choice by taking Heisman Trophy winner and national champion LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. The Chargers also acquired Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert to replace former starter Philip Rivers, while the Dolphins used their first round pick on Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Clearly, next season will see a good amount of young QB talent as each of these players will benefit their respective teams in their own ways.
Of course, this is all contingent on whether or not the 2020–2021 football season takes place as scheduled due to the adjustments and suspensions taking place in sports due to the coronavirus.
Although NFL fans will just have to wait to see exactly how much the Bucs evolve with Brady and Gronkowski, it’s clear that the team will ultimately be improving overall and can possibly be considered one of the teams to compete with.
Brady’s departure is definitely going to impact the Patriots, but it is unclear whether they will be an especially unsuccessful team without him. A good part of Brady’s success in his career can be attributed to head coach Bill Belichick, who is known for the high standards he maintains for the team, and will definitely not allow the team to completely fail without Brady.
For Patriots fans, this offseason marks the end of an era in which they were able to watch Brady grow and perform for 20 years. He delivered endless dedication and brought what felt like constant success to New England. But now, a new chapter begins.
Written by: Rain Yekikian — firstname.lastname@example.org