Thanks to Tom Brady’s 72,765 passing yards, 6,204 completions, 530 touchdown passes and six Super Bowl wins, we know the 42-year-old is a surefire bet to wind up in Canton one day.
But, in the midst of his 20th season in the NFL, we don’t know if New England’s longtime quarterback will make another stop along the way.
It seems unthinkable that the face of the Patriots could ever end up wearing a different helmet, but there is a mounting pile of evidence that it’s possible a quarterback sneak to another organization could be part of Brady’s playbook.
Exhibit A: Brady will become a free agent after the season
At Brady’s insistence, the contract “extension” he signed with the Patriots this offseason makes him a free agent and prohibits the team from placing the franchise tag on him after the season. This is the first time in two decades the team and Brady have gone into a season without him being under contract for the following year. While it could all just be a leverage play to force the team’s hand to pay him more if they want to retain him, it also may be a sign Brady is ready and willing to sign with a new team now that he’ll finally be able to do so.
Exhibit B: Brady and Gisele Bündchen’s Boston-area home is for sale
In August, Brady and Bundchen listed their Boston-area mansion for $39.5 million. The price for the five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Brookline was slashed to $33.9 million this month.
In addition to the celeb couple’s custom-built home being placed on the market, Brady’s business partner and personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, also placed his house on the market in August.
The third piece of the pie is that Brady and Bündchen reportedly have a new house in Greenwich, Connecticut. While moving there doesn’t necessarily preclude Brady from playing for the Patriots — he probably could afford an apartment in Foxborough — it is interesting he’d want to have another NYC-area property when he already owns a place in Tribeca.
Exhibit C: Brady’s non-definitive answers about the subject
The topic of Brady’s future has been a huge topic this offseason and he has not shied away from discussing it. The most recent example was on Monday night during his weekly interview with Jim Gray.
During a lengthy conversation, Brady said none of the media speculation about his future plans has been brought on by anything he’s said and that his only focus is on the second half of the season.
“Again, I don’t know why it’s being brought up,” Brady said. “I had a good quote that came to mind. Someone told me the past and future are in the mind. I’m in the now. I think that’s a great way to live life. I’m not thinking about many things beyond this week. There are some family things I’m thinking about with the holidays coming up, but outside of that I’m thinking about football and how I can be the best for the New England Patriots. I don’t really pay attention to it, and I’m the only one who knows how I feel.”
Absent in that answer? Brady even approaching making a definitive statement that he fully intends to work out a new deal with the team once the season is over. The reason the possibility of him leaving keeps being brought up is that he’s never said anything to the contrary despite having daily opportunities to do so.
Exhibit D: Brady may not like how the Patriots are structured
Even though the team is 8-0, Brady and the New England offense have ceded the spotlight to the defense that stole the show at Super Bowl LIII.
Also, a year that started with Brady having veterans like Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon as receiving options has shifted to him throwing passes to unknown commodities like Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry.
True, Brady still has trusted options like Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett at his disposal and the team did acquire veteran Mohamed Sanu from the Falcons, but the team’s receiving corps is far from elite and Brady’s numbers have suffered because of it.
It’s cynical, but one might even wonder if that’s at least slightly on purpose. After all, the worse Brady’s numbers are this season, the easier it is for the team to make him a lowball offer and, if he doesn’t take it, justify letting him leave for more cash in greener pastures. Bill Belichick has certainly done worse.
So, if Brady did actually go somewhere else, where would it be?
There are plenty of teams that would want Brady, but there are probably only a handful — if any — he would consider going to.
One potential landing spot, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, is in Los Angeles with the Chargers. “The Chargers would have a unique appeal to Brady on multiple levels, the sources said, while it’s also something the league would covet given the Chargers’ current struggles to sell PSLs and sponsorships at the glistening new stadium they will share with the Rams in Inglewood beginning next fall,” La Canfora writes.
Another place Brady could end up if he leaves New England? In Nashville with the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have been a quarterback short of being a threat for a number of years now and there’s some belief Brady would be open to the idea of playing for ex-teammate-turned-head coach Mike Vrabel.
So, will Brady’s 20th season with the Patriots end with one of the messiest sports divorces of all-time? The truth is, nobody knows, even Brady.
“The great part for me is I don’t know,” Brady said last week. “And I think that’s been a unique situation that I’ve been in because I think when you commit to a team for a certain amount of years, you kind of feel like your responsibility’s to always fulfill the contract. For me it’s been good because I’m just taking it day by day and I’m enjoying what I have. I don’t know what the future holds.”
A trip to Canton for sure. Whether there’s a stop in the middle is still to be determined.