Tom Brady could leave the New England Patriots in his impending free agency. What is the ripple effect if he has played his last home game in Foxborough?
Eventually, this thing is going to end.
One day in the not so distant future, the New England Patriots will not have Tom Brady as their starting quarterback anymore. The six-time Super Bowl champion will be 43-years-old during the 2020 NFL season. He plans to play until he’s 45, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be with New England.
Brady will be an unrestricted free agent this spring. Outside of New England, the future Pro Football Hall of Famer will have many suitors, including the Las Vegas Raiders, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Tennessee Titans. Adding Brady would theoretically make all three franchise’s quarterback situations better, but there plenty of unintended consequences that would follow.
New England might be ready to pay the GOAT upwards of $30 million to keep him in Foxborough a bit longer, but what if Brady has had enough of The Patriot Way and wants to have some fun on the gridiron for once before he retires? Let’s take a look the ripple effect that would come from Brady leaving the Patriots, how it impacts the AFC East, the AFC at-large and the NFL.
New England perspective
Should Brady leave the Patriots, this does three things. It forces the Patriots to reluctantly enter the free-agent quarterback market this spring, or at the very least, seriously look at rookie signal-callers in the NFL draft. Brady’s departure would make the Patriots vulnerable for the first time in years. It also nicely dovetails into Bill Belichick’s last chapter of his legacy as an NFL head coach.
In terms of the free-agent quarterback market, players like Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater make some sense. New England has Jarrett Stidham on the roster, so he may get a chance to compete for the starting job. The Patriots could look trade for veteran starters like Andy Dalton or Derek Carr, as well as targeting a quarterback at the end of the first round of the draft.
Even if quarterbacks like Bridgewater, Carr, Dalton, Mariota or Stidham thrive in Josh McDaniels’ Patriots offense, New England will be vulnerable as a team for the first time in over a decade. Not since Matt Cassel filled in for an injured Brady in 2008 have the Patriots failed to win the division. In short, there are no guarantees the Patriots will be playing January football any longer.
As for Belichick, he may not so secretly love this. He will finally have his day in the sun (or snow) to prove he was the reason New England won all those Super Bowls and not Brady. If Belichick can take quarterbacks who have never even won a playoff game before like Carr or Dalton to the AFC Championship, that will only add to his legacy as the greatest football coach of his generation.