The odds on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl have plummeted since they lured legendary quarterback Tom Brady to Florida. The Bucs were +5000 (50/1) outsiders before snapping up the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and they have now dropped to just +1000 (10/1) as the new season looms.
Brady’s arrival has had a transformative effect on the franchise. He convinced Rob Gronkowksi to come out of retirement and join him for a swansong in Tampa. Former Eagles, Bills, and Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy then joined the revolution, and now Leonard Fournette has also signed on the dotted line.
Excitement now abounds among Bucs fans. The franchise is going all-in on the 2020 season, assembling a stellar supporting cast around Brady, so it is easy to see why he made the move south. He now has a far more formidable offense at his disposal than the one he left behind at Foxborough – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard should relish the opportunity to play with the great man – and he now stands a great chance of securing another Super Bowl ring before retiring, but was it a sensible decision to move?
A Roll of the Dice
Most fans thought Brady would stay with the Patriots for the entirety of his career. He will undoubtedly go down as a legend in New England, but his legacy could be slightly tarnished if he leads his new team to emphatic victories over the Pats.
Brady has already achieved more than most quarterbacks could ever dream of. He is a six-time Super Bowl champion, a four-time Super Bowl MVP, a three-time NFL MVP, and a 14-time Pro Bowl selection. He holds an embarrassment of records and regularly tops lists of the greatest football players of all time.
He is now 43 years of age and he could have simply retired as a one-team legend this year. He could alternatively have spent a couple more years in New England. The Pats were willing to “extend themselves” in a bid to keep hold of him. Brady could have piled pressure on the management to improve the roster, and then tried to lead them to glory once again.
New England was comfortable for Brady. He had worked with Bill Belichick for two decades, and he was universally revered at the franchise. He is now taking a big risk by moving to a different team in the twilight of his career, at a time when young guns like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes have arguably exposed his lack of mobility.
A Bold Decision
Brady also had other options as he sought the ideal place to see out the remainder of his career. The Chargers would have jumped at the chance to sign him. He would have helped them to fill out the new 70,000-seat stadium they are poised to move into, Covid-19 permitting of course, and he would have linked up with an improving team.
He is from California and has spent a lot of time in LA, living with supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen at a 14,000 square foot home they built in Brentwood. Yet he chose Tampa Bay, and only time will tell if it proves to be a shrewd decision.
There would have been significant downsides to moving to the Chargers. His arrival would have wiped out the bulk of the money the franchise had left in the salary cap, destroying its chances of signing Bryan Bulaga.
The Chargers may not have been able to present Brady with the supporting cast he needed to challenge for the Super Bowl. Instead, they went with Tyrod Taylor and bulked out the roster with various positions of need.
Living the Good Life
There were also some pretty serious downsides to staying in New England. The Pats could not offer Brady much in the way of receiving support. Gronkowski had retired. Josh Gordon was released after various problems. Antonio Brown’s tenure proved brief and ill-fated. Overall there was a distinct lack of downfield talent, and Brady clearly felt he did not want to waste his remaining few years playing in a team that was not competitive.
He will have a great life down in Tampa. When northeasterners near retirement, they often set their sights on Florida. They are generally in their 60s and ready to play golf most of the time, but you can see why it is an appealing destination.
A change of scenery may help him flourish. A new challenge could be good for him. Brady has signed a lucrative contract, and he might not have earned as much by staying with the Patriots.
He will also be freer to promoted his TB12 Sports startup and work more closely with Alex Guerrero. The New England hierarchy did not seem particularly keen on Guerrero and the holistic wellness aspect of TB12 Sports. Bruce Arians is a lot more laidback than Bellichick, who is ruthless and determined to win at all costs.
Can Brady Succeed in Tampa?
Yet Brady’s move to the Bucs will ultimately be judged in terms of trophies and cold hard statistics. It is easy to see why they wanted to sign him, as his arrival has already shown signs of rejuvenating a moribund franchise, but whether he can lead them deep into the postseason is another matter entirely.
Brady is clearly not the player he once was. He is going into a team that has not made the playoffs in a dozen years and has had just two winning seasons in that time. It is extremely risky for both parties.
Yet there is a sense of urgency among Bucs fans, Arians, and Brady alike for instant success, and that could benefit Brady. The Bucs were strong on both sides of the ball last year, and he now has two Pro Bowl receivers downfield in Godwin and Evans. They are among the favorites to win everything this season with top betting sites like Unikrn. That is down to Brady’s arrival, but also a reflection of the overall quality across the team.
Tampa Bay is the host city for Super Bowl LV. No team has ever won a Super Bowl in its own stadium, but it would be an amazing story if Brady were to pull it off with the Bucs, gaining a seventh ring and proving that he can succeed without Bellichick.