Off the Gridiron: TB is going to TB

I’m not sure that the image of Tom Brady in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform will ever look right, but that’s the new reality for football fans.

Last week, the G.O.A.T. signed with the Buccaneers on a two-year contract worth $50 million. Brady announced his departure from the Patriots after posting his worst passer rating since 2013, prompting speculation that the 42-year old is no better than an average quarterback these days. Brady’s divorce from the Patriots was also fueled by rumors of a power struggle between Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, each hoping to prove that they were responsible for the Patriots’ success over the past 20 years.

Before Brady decided that Tampa Bay was the best place to set the record straight, there were several teams he could have joined. The teams interested in Brady were teams that either had a quarterback vacancy or were looking to replace their mediocre quarterback to get over the hump. The teams rumored to be interested in Brady other than the Buccaneers included the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers.

I thought that Brady’s best fit would be in Indianapolis, protected by that highly-rated offensive line and supported by head coach Frank Reich. Brady would also inherit an ascending young defense highlighted by Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner and Malik Hooker and talented offensive players like Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton. Despite the potential of this fit, the Colts opted to sign Phillip Rivers to a one-year, $25 million deal.

Rivers’ former team, the Chargers, would have also been a nice fit for Brady. Aside from the porous offensive line, the team has a talented offense featuring Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry and a ferocious defense with Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram III, Chris Harris, Linval Joseph and Derwin James. But despite the win-now outlook of the Colts and the Chargers, Brady decided to take his talents to the Bucs.

Whether it was the warm weather, lack of income taxes, the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium or the orange-cream colored jerseys, Brady was drawn to the Buccaneers over his other suitors. Brady inherits one of the best receiving cores in the league, starring Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. Last season Godwin tallied 1,333 receiving yards while Evans added 1,157. Although he did not play a key role in the offense last season, Howard is an extremely talented tight end who could thrive with a quarterback like Brady. After lacking star receivers the past few seasons in New England, Tampa’s pass-catching talent had to be a huge factor in Brady’s decision.

The Buccaneers also have a talented defense, led by Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Devin White, that was ranked fifth in defensive-adjusted value over average (DVOA) last season. While Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, known for his desire to get the ball downfield, might not appear to be compatible with Brady’s arm in the twilight of his career, I have no doubt that the two will design an offense that will terrorize the rest of the league.

Signing with the Bucs and all of their receiver talent gives Brady the best chance to declare that he was responsible for the Patriots’ success in this century.