There are pluses and minuses for teams — other than the New England Patriots — that have a legitimate shot at signing Tom Brady in free agency next month.
Personally, I believe Brady is done as a Patriot.
I also believe once Brady goes through the courting stage with a handful of teams, he’s going to realize the grass might be greener, in terms of appreciation, on the other side.
Let’s take a look at the seven teams with a legitimate shot at bringing on Brady:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
First inclination: Interesting.
Why it works: A lot of reasons. The Bucs haven’t been to the playoffs in a dozen years. They are desperate to go for it. Coach Bruce Arians also is a Grade A QB coach and salesman. Also, they have two Pro Bowl receivers.
Why it doesn’t: They’re the Bucs. The Bucs have stunk as long as the Patriots Dynasty has been in the works. They haven’t won a playoff game since their Super Bowl season of 2002. Maybe that would inspire Brady to bring them back.
Las Vegas Raiders
First inclination: It’s a match.
Why it works: Brady would be on a huge stage, which he loves. Las Vegas would treat him like an Egyptian Pharaoh with glitz and glamour. The Raiders are close to being good, with a good offensive line, running back and elite tight end. They also have cap space to get an elite wide receiver. Coach Jon Gruden also needs to show positive results immediately.
Why it doesn’t: Does Brady want to play two years in Vegas? In the end, family is supposed to be very important to him, and that’s a long trek. Also, Brady understands the importance of ownership after 20 years with Bob Kraft, and Mark Davis can’t carry BK’s jock strap.
First inclination: This is the place.
Why it works: A lot of the pieces fit here, if winning is paramount to everything else. The Titans have a good defense that appears to be getting better. They had the best running back in the NFL last year in Derrick Henry (a free agent). Their offensive line will protect Brady. The fact Brady and Titans coach Mike Vrabel have a history helps.
Why it doesn’t: They need help at wide receiver, and their offense might be a little too generic with a passing game based on play-action. While Vrabel did a good job getting his team past the Ravens and to the AFC title game, they were overmatched against the Chiefs.
First inclination: I can’t see it.
Why it works: Brady will get a coach, Brian Flores, who would hand over the offense to him. Flores won his last two games — outlasting the Bengals and Patriots — and showed a lot of moxie. The team has a lot of holes, but it also has a lot of financial room to build. If Brady is willing to go through a year of growth, building for the 2021, this is a good choice.
Why it doesn’t: Brady would have to play the Patriots twice. That could be construed as a positive, but I’m guessing he’d rather keep his distance from Foxboro for at least one year. The Dolphins, like the Bucs, are in nearly two decades of unreliability. The organization has been a disaster under owner Stephen Ross. Why take this big of a risk and possibly finish under .500?
Los Angeles Chargers
First inclination: The safest pick.
Why it works: Other than a guarantee of winning, this decision checks a lot of the boxes. Brady gets to the Los Angeles area, where he and his wife have a home. The franchise is in need of some energy as second fiddle to the L.A. Rams. And it has some pieces to build with. He would be seen as a savior, a role he’d probably cherish.
Why it doesn’t: First and foremost, the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are in the same division. That alone will be a tough cookie to crumble. The Chargers are not a good franchise to count on. They are up. They are down. They are streaky.
First inclination: Wow, that would be cool.
Why it works: Everything is there — the bright lights, the skill on offense at running back and wideout, the offensive line and the fandom. If he goes here, the Cowboys probably become a top-three team in the conference.
Why it doesn’t: For this to happen, the Cowboys admit they are going for it for two years, thus allowing Dak Prescott and his possible 10 years to leave. This is a big risk for the Cowboys, especially if they believe Dak is a $30-million guy. Brady and the Cowboys don’t seem to jell, especially having an owner who meets with the media more than the QB does.
New York Giants
First inclination: No way.
Why it works: If Brady is truly about family, this is his best option — only 30 miles from his eldest son, Jack. The Giants are a premiere franchise in the NFL, with its N.Y. roots. Brady would be at home there. As for the football side of it, the coach is a former Pats assistant (Joe Judge), and he would hand off to a great running back (Saquon Barkley).
Why it doesn’t: The Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the seventh overall pick and — you know what — he appears to be pretty good. In other words, the Giants have a QB to build with. It doesn’t make sense for Jones to sit two years behind Brady.
The Giants don’t seem to be headed in the right direction just yet with winning a championship probably an impossibility here.