With their loss to the Tennessee Titans eliminating them from the playoffs, the Patriots capped a disappointing season in comparison to the dynasty’s legacy. While preparation is already in the works for next season, the organization, in the words of Bill Belichick, is “not prepared to talk about the future.” Though the Patriots general management is tight-lipped about the team’s direction for rebuilding, the biggest question left circling is, “what’s next for Tom Brady?” For the first time in the New England star quarterback’s career, he’s a free agent. What does this mean for the Patriots and what can we expect for the renowned QB come the 2020-2021 season?
Option 1: Re-signs With The Patriots
Rest assured Patriots fans, there’s certainly a chance that Brady stays in New England. While the stability of his relationship with Belichick has been questionable, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has expressed nothing but respect and admiration for Brady. “I love the young man like he’s part of my family,” Kraft stated on Monday. “Anyone who’s done that has earned the right to control his future after 20 years. And you know, my hope and prayer is number one, he play for the Patriots.”
Logistically, the Patriots need all the weapons they can get. This season, they weren’t equipped with the elite offense we’ve been used to watching in recent years. Between a 39-year-old Benjamin Watson and a one-handed Julian Edelman, Brady was left with few passing options. Even so, with the help of an overestimated defense, he managed to put up 12 wins, something few other quarterbacks could have accomplished. If the Patriots were to make adjustments in their offense leaving ample fiscal capacity to re-sign Brady in March, then it’s highly possible that the Brady-Patriots era will live on.
Option 2: Signs With Another Team
Considering that he’s been sporting the Patriots uniform ever since 2001, it’s difficult to imagine Brady playing for any other team. However, as incomprehensible as it may sound, Number 12’s time with the Pats has to end at some point – whether that means throwing in the retirement towel or relocating to another hub willing to strike up a deal for his final good years. Brady vowed to continue playing until he was 45, and there’s a good chance he would opt to finish out three more seasons with another franchise. It’s certainly not unheard of for a senior franchise quarterback to be let go in exchange for a new prospect. Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and Peyton Manning each left their respective organizations so management could pave the way for promising younger successors.
As to which team would be Brady’s next stop, two of the more fitting candidates are the Los Angeles Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts. The Chargers would certainly welcome a reason to boost ticket sales, due in part to being cast in the shadow of the city’s more recently successful sister team, the Rams. Not to mention, the Chargers’ time with Phillip Rivers, another veteran quarterback, hasn’t produced any substantial success since 2013, the last time the team made the playoffs.
Ever since Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement at the beginning of the 2019-2020 season, the Colts have been another viable nominee. With one of the current best offensive lines in the league and a high-caliber running back, Indi could offer Brady a dynamic arsenal, something the Patriots were lacking this season. Either way, for those who could read between the past-tense lines of Brady’s comments during the Titans post-game press conference, including, “I was proud to be a part of this team,” it wouldn’t be a surprise if the long-time Pat ultimately decides to settle elsewhere.
Option 3: Retires
The least glamorous option, and also the least likely, is hanging up the old jersey. Knowing Brady’s resilience and competitive spirit, the six-time Super Bowl champion won’t be satisfied with the endnote of his accredited career being a pick-six resulting in elimination at home during the first round of the playoffs. When questioned about the possibility of retirement after the game, Brady responded with a smile, “It’s pretty unlikely, but yeah, hopefully unlikely.”