Five possible Tom Brady destinations this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Is this the end for Tom Brady?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season came to an end on Monday with a 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The 45-year-old quarterback completed 35 of 66 passes for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but it took until the final play of the third quarter for the Bucs to muster any points.
Now, the focus shifts to the offseason. Brady is set to hit free agency, and while many expect him to return for a 24th season, it might be for a different team. He’s spent the last three years with the Bucs after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots.
Which team will Brady play for next season? There are plenty of factors involved – team talent, coaching, division competition and location, among others. Here are five of Brady’s best options when looking for his next team:
Roster: The Raiders have some star talent on the roster, though their lack of depth helped contribute to a 6-11 season. On the offensive side, Brady would have an arsenal of weapons headlined by Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Josh Jacobs is a pending free agent who could be enticed to stay if Brady signs. Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones form a strong defensive line for Las Vegas, but the secondary is thin.
Coaching: Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was Brady’s offensive coordinator in New England for 11 seasons. The two are extremely familiar, which would make for an easy transition on both sides. Four other Raiders offensive coaches are former Patriots assistants, too.
Division: Here’s where the Raiders become a tricky option. The AFC West is loaded with two superstar young quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. Let’s just say Brady wouldn’t be making the playoffs with an 8-9 record – like he did in 2022 – if he joined Las Vegas.
Location: Brady’s three kids are all located on the East Coast, with Jack living in New York City and Benjamin and Vivian residing in Florida. Las Vegas would be a long distance to travel if he wants to remain close.
Roster: The Dolphins started the 2022 season 8-3 behind Tua Tagovailoa, but the team struggled down the stretch to finish 9-8 and the young quarterback was unable to stay healthy. There’s plenty of talent on the roster, though, including receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and tackle Terron Armstead. The defense is strong, too, with Christian Wilkins, Bradley Chubb, Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland all under 30 years old.
Coaching: It would be an unfamiliar staff for Brady. The only offensive coach with a tie to Brady is wide receivers coach Wes Welker, who played in New England from 2007 to 2012. Head coach Mike McDaniel comes from the Kyle Shanahan tree, with no tie to the offenses Brady has run.
Division: Brady is all too familiar with the AFC East, but this isn’t the same division he left after the 2019 season. The Bills are poised to dominate for years to come after winning three straight division titles. The Jets are on the rise after a 7-10 season, and the Patriots are still solid with Bill Belichick in charge.
Location: This wouldn’t be much of a move for Brady – just a short flight down to South Beach from Tampa. It would keep him near two of his kids and relatively the same distance as he is now to the third.
Roster: The Jets are just a quarterback away from contention. Their defense is loaded with young talent, including Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner. Offensively, the Jets have pieces ready to make an impact if they can get a competent quarterback. Breece Hall had a standout season before getting injured, Garrett Wilson is an Offensive Rookie of the Year contender and the offensive line has talented, albeit injury-prone, players in Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Coaching: Robert Saleh is another Shanahan disciple, but he’s a defensive-minded head coach. The Jets parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur after the season, which could clear the way for Brady to bring in his own guy.
Division: This is the same story as Miami, where Brady would have to deal with the Bills. It would give him another prime opportunity to get revenge on Belichick, though. Brady’s former coach has beaten up on the Jets for years after he resigned from the organization in 2000, winning the last 14 Pats-Jets matchups.
Location: The Jets play just across the river in New Jersey, but this would bring Brady right next to his 15-year-old son, Jack. He would still be on the East Coast, located in the country’s biggest market.
Roster: Joining the Titans would be a clear downgrade in teammate talent for Brady. Derrick Henry is their best offensive weapon, but he’s a 29-year-old running back with a lot of miles. The wide receiver room includes veteran Robert Woods and 2022 rookie Treylon Burks, which isn’t exactly inspiring. The Titans have a solid defense, led by Jeffery Simmons and Kevin Byard.
Coaching: Titans head coach Mike Vrabel was Brady’s teammate in New England from 2001 to 2008, where they won three Super Bowls together. The former linebacker has never coached Brady, but they are obviously comfortable with each other. Tennessee fired offensive coordinator Todd Downing after the season, giving Brady a chance to choose the type of system he wants.
Division: Brady played in the NFL’s worst division in 2022. If he joined Tennessee, he’d play in the second-worst. The Colts and Texans both have top-five draft picks as they rebuild their rosters. The Jaguars, who won the division this year with a 9-8 record, are the biggest competition thanks to young quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Location: This might be the ideal Brady location, at least geographically. Living in Nashville would plant Brady right in between New York City and Florida. It’s not quite on the coast, but it’s close enough.
New England Patriots
Roster: New England’s roster is in better shape than it was when Brady left. The defense showed it was playoff-ready this season, while the offense lagged behind. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson is a rising star, but the group of pass-catchers still leaves a lot to be desired. The offensive line is solid and the defense is a talented group with Matthew Judon, Kyle Dugger, Christian Barmore and Josh Uche.
Coaching: Here’s where things get complicated. We never really know what Belichick is thinking (Would he want Brady back? Is he too stubborn?). The two did have a lengthy chat in the locker room after the Bucs-Pats game in 2021, so the respect level is likely still there. The Patriots will also need to add an offensive coordinator because the Matt Patricia and Joe Judge duo was ineffective with Mac Jones.
Division: Brady would arguably be joining the least-talented team in the AFC East, setting up six tough games against the upstart Bills, Dolphins and Jets. Things aren’t how they used to be when Brady and Belichick would cruise through their divisional slate.
Location: The location works – close to New York, on the East Coast, etc. Maybe Brady still has a home near Gillette Stadium? He’s made it work before and he could do it again if he desired.