5 ColdHardFootballFacts — and Questions — About Tom Brady's Buccaneers Future

Cameron Smith

If nothing else, Tom Brady's football future in Tampa Bay should force him to utter at least one phrase he never imagined possible: "Go Bucs".

Yes, the spelling is different from the Ohio State Buckeyes, but the intonation is the same. Once upon a time that alone might have scared Brady away, but in his quest to land one last Super Bowl ring in his final seasons, the opportunity on offer in Cigar City proved too enticing. Why? Let's examine more closely:

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5) We got here because the Patriots wanted to pay Tom Brady like a 43-year-old QB and Tom Brady wanted to be paid like Tom Brady. Sometimes things really are as simple as channeling Jerry Maguire: Show Tom Brady the money. The Bucs wasted no time in preparing and offering a $30 million per year contract. The Patriots -- allegedly -- offered only a deal that was short of his 2019 deal. Those two offers weren't compatible, and to Brady and his camp that represented a lack of respect for the greatest quarterback to play the game. Respect is more important for 43-year-olds than 20 and 30-somethings, and Brady is cashing in on the ultimate sign of respect in Tampa Bay, both literally and figuratively.

4) It's possible that both Brady and the Patriots were acting reasonably in their assessments of a potential deal. As mentioned above, the Pats wanted to pay Brady like a 43-year-old quarterback with 20 years on the tires and a shoulder injury that could be recurring. It's no wonder why they felt that way; Brady is a 43-year-old quarterback with a shoulder injury, and his advanced stats were way down in 2019: the 17th place finish was the worst for the Patriots with Brady at quarterback. Some of that was due to the offensive line in front of him and wide receivers on the flanks, but there's little question at least some of the degredation was down to him. At the same time, Brady is still Tom Brady, and for a franchise like the Bucs, being able to plug in the greatest quarterback of all time is well worth $30 million per year just to see if he can click with their receiving talent. That made the gulf between what the Patriots were offering — likely something in the $13-18 million range, plus incentives — and the $30 million from the Bucs all the more striking.

3) Will we see Antonio Brown in a Bucs uniform? Don't count that out. Remember, Brady's surrogates in the media leaked that the factors he was most focused on were offensive weapons, schematic input and the ability to help "buy the groceries," as Belichick famously put it in New York. It's been no secret that Brady and Brown have continued a social media bromance since he was released by the Patriots. Brown has gone so far as to say that he only wants to play with Brady. For that to happen Brown would have to be reinstated by the NFL, which would in turn require settlement of multiple legal issues (you'd imagine the NFL would want Brown to drop any actions against the Patriots and Raiders, for a starter). Still, that's not beyond question, and with Brady still openly lusting to throw Brown the ball, don't count anything out.

2) Can Brady and Bucs coach Bruce Arians' system work together? Of all the questions about Brady's decision to sign with Tampa, one of the most jarring is this: The Patriots have made Brady football's Babe Ruth by transforming him into the ultimate dink, dunk and read passer. Bruce Arians traditionally wants nothing more than to stretch out a defense by bombing downfield to excellent open wide receivers. So which is it going to be? That's a question that has to be answered as Brady and Arians collaborate. The Bucs weapons are geared toward Arians' downfield game. Sure, Brady can help get more out of tight end O.J. Howard, but the wide receivers — Mike Evans and Chris Godwin — are always going to be deep threats first. Converting them to Brady's style will take time and, potentially, muting both natural inclination and the best tailored skills from some elite athletes. That may all be in the best interest of the team, but it speaks to the need to adjust for Brady, rather than vice versa.

1) The story about work-life balance driving Brady's decision? Don't buy it. There's a narrative that part of Brady's motivation to sign with the Buccaneers was based on his desire to remain on the East Coast. This makes no sense. The Brady family manse in Brookline remains on the market. Brady's wife and children are reportedly currently holed up in New York City. That's partly because it's one of a handful of cities in which they own property, but it's also closer to Brady's eldest son, Jack, from his relationship with Bridget Moynahan. If the Brady family does, indeed, plan on remaining in New York, the flights to Tampa would last three hours. If Brady had chosen the Chargers, his other non-Patriots suitor, his flight time would have been six hours. Still, at three hours each way, there's no reasonable chance that Brady is traveling between New York and Tampa for a weekday practice. He's making that trip up after a game and back down the morning of the next subsequent practice. If that was the travel plan, what's the difference between a three-hour leg and a six-hour one, particularly for an uber-millionaire who will fly himself private? Add to that the relative ease of the family either relocating or temporarily setting up shop in L.A. — the Brady's still own property there, too — and Brady's recently opened production company in L.A. and there's ample reason for L.A. to make more sense for his family than Tampa. And that's all before one considers the larger impact of his TB12 business and possible west coast expansion.

Besides, if Brady was really focused on familial considerations, there was another team interested that would have allowed him to keep his kids in their existing school, his family in the house they'd grown up in and which is close enough to New York to drive or take a 45 minute flight: the Patriots.

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