By the time Tom Brady takes another NFL snap, he will be 46 years old. After 23 seasons, Brady is a free agent, and it seems he is unlikely to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here is a look into the 6 most likely Tom Brady destinations for 2023.
Brady quarterbacked the Bucs for three seasons, winning 64% of his starts. He led the Bucs to the Super Bowl in his first season, but Tampa Bay suffered early playoff exits in each of the last two seasons.
Brady had a strange season. While he had a healthy 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns, he had an absurd 733 pass attempts, an NFL record. He posted the lowest touchdown percentage of his career, and his yards per attempt was the lowest it had been since 2002.
The Bucs dealt with many offensive injuries, adjusting Brady’s offensive line and receiving corps, but the season resembled something of a slow-motion train crash. Both sides of the blame game – the Bucs and Brady – have valid criticisms of the other side.
With Brady likely leaving, who will be lining up for the 46-year-old’s services?
Brady briefly retired last off-season before returning for his 23rd season. Retirement, potentially permanent retirement, is likely on the table. As much of a competitor as Brady is, he may opt to retire before the total degradation of his physical tools sets in. Brady will have to decide between retiring too early or holding on for too long.
New York Jets
Brady has been Jets fans’ worst nightmare since 2001. When Brady was on the Patriots, he swept the Jets 11 times, and his team has not lost to the Jets since 2015. All told, Brady is 31-8 against the Jets. However, the Jets desperately need a quarterback, and they are positioned to compete immediately when they acquire a quarterback. Could the Jets be the next Tom Brady destination?
Which legendary NFL defense would love to resurrect?
1985 Chicago Bears
1976 Pittsburgh Steelers
2000 Baltimore Ravens
2002 Tampa Bay Bucs
1986 New York Giants
2013 Seattle Seahawks
The 2022 Jets offense dealt with offensive line injuries and a debilitating injury to rookie Breece Hall, but they have reason to be excited in 2023. They won seven games in 2022 despite trotting out Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Mike White. Even at 46, Brady is almost certainly an upgrade. If Brady could win with the Jets, his legacy would become that much more impressive.
Miami is less likely to go after Brady than they were before the 2022 season, but the option is on the table. Miami went 9-8 and made the playoffs, but Tua Tagovailoa has dealt with injuries so far in his NFL career. After he lit the NFL on fire to open the 2022 season, he battled with concussions, eventually missing four games and Miami’s playoff game. If the Dolphins have any concerns with Tagovailoa, they could swing for Brady.
The Dolphins are not the perfect fit for Brady as they have defensive issues, a porous offensive line, and an inconsistent rushing attack, but the duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle might be the best Brady has ever played with. Even if Brady does not have the same arm strength he had earlier in his career, Waddle and Hill would create that much more separation and make Brady’s life easier.
The Titans are stuck in quarterback purgatory. Ryan Tannehill missed five games in 2022, and he has not been quite as good as he was in 2019 and 2020. The Titans do have the young Malik Willis, but Willis was so overmatched as a starter that the Titans opted to start journeyman Joshua Dobbs with the season on the line.
With Brady, Willis could take a season (or potentially two) to learn the position behind Brady. Tennessee has a lackluster offensive line and receiver corps, but they have Derrick Henry. They also have a competent defense and one of the top coaches in the NFL. As a player, Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowls with Brady. Could he win one as a coach with Brady at quarterback?
Las Vegas Raiders
Out of the six options, this is probably the most likely. The Raiders are moving on from long-time quarterback Derek Carr, and Jarrett Stidham did not exactly prove he was starter material. Brady could step into a situation with top receiving targets in Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller.
On the other hand, the Raiders have a disaster of a defense, and they have one above-average piece on the offensive line. They also play in a brutal division that sent two teams to the playoffs in 2022. Even if the Raiders were to get Brady, they would likely be third favorites in the division behind the Chiefs and Chargers.
San Francisco 49ers
Like Miami, this outcome has gotten less and less likely as the year has progressed. Brock Purdy has ripped off seven wins in a row – including two playoff wins – to begin his NFL career. Even if the 49ers do not trust Purdy long-term, they also have Jimmy Garoppolo and 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. At the beginning of the season, Brady was likely an upgrade over Garoppolo, Lance, or Purdy, but that is less clear now.
The 49ers would be a dream landing spot for Brady. They have a superstar running back, a deep receiving corps with two All-Pros, and an imposing offensive line. The defense is also one of the best in the NFL. If Brady could pick his destination, San Francisco is likely at the top of his list.
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