What NFL experts are saying about Tom Brady’s decision to leave the Patriots

Free agent Tom Brady is officially on the market, with many NFL experts speculating that he will take his talent to Tampa Bay. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

As many continue to process the news that Tom Brady is a Patriot no more, and all but officially heading to Tampa Bay – many NFL experts are dishing out their takes on Brady’s big move.

Longtime sports reporters such as ESPN’s Mike Reiss have covered Brady’s entire reign in New England over the past 20 seasons, and must now analyze what that means for the Patriots going into next season, specifically at the quarterback position.

“Tom Brady’s departure has created a massive hole on the New England Patriots’ quarterback depth chart,” Reiss wrote. “Leaving 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and five-year veteran journeyman Cody Kessler. Stidham currently has the top spot, with Kessler behind him. The expectation is that a third quarterback will be added by training camp, which is standard operating procedure for NFL teams. Whether that addition is a veteran or developmental prospect remains to be seen.”


Others, like NBC  Sports Boston’s Tom Curran, dove into what could have led to Brady’s departure in the first place – as well as the “culture” shock that Brady might have to deal with on another team.

“Philosophical differences. That’s why Tom Brady’s not a Patriot anymore,” Curran wrote. “Bill Belichick couldn’t get his brain around paying a player born in 1977 as if he were born in 1997. Brady couldn’t get over the fact that — after all the years he’d spent showing his DOB didn’t matter — his bosses just wouldn’t believe it. I do think the timing of Brady’s announcement is telling. He waited to make sure an offer would crystallize — and it did with Tampa Bay and the Chargers.”


Here’s what NFL experts are saying about Brady leaving the Patriots:

Curran: “That is what the folks around Brady expected to have happened, he’s going to go wherever he goes and it’s a full on culture change the same way Peyton Manning was able to offer that. The folks with the Patriots who I’ve spoken to are like, ‘Look he doesn’t know how dysfunctional some teams are.’

“The Patriots have sleep pods all over the place, they have flotation tanks. They have this stuff on site. If you listen to Brady sometimes when they break down after a win, he’ll say, ‘Make sure you get your rest.’ He’s maniacal about those little things that give you preparatory advantage. It’s going to be fascinating to watch [him on another team] because that’s the biggest thing that has to change I would think: culture and the tiny little things that go into it.”


Adam Schefter, ESPN: “Since word surfaced that Tom Brady is expected to land in Tampa, an unexpected high number of players have reached out to the Buccaneers to let them know they want to join the former Patriots’ QB there, per league sources.”

Ben Shpigel, New York Times: “Brady may be entering a favorable situation, surrounded by shrewd coaches, loads of offensive skill, a stout defense (and no state income tax).

“But he is still venturing into an uncertain stage, with no assurance that he will play well next season, when he will be 43. The Buccaneers’ schedule is full of enticing matchups, with Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan all slated to visit (pencil in at least two of those for Sunday or Monday night).


“This is all new, with no blueprint for how this next phase of his career unfolds, no analogue for a 42-year-old quarterbacking legend who leaves to become another team’s starter.”

Nancy Armour, USA Today: “Maybe he’ll win with his new team. Maybe he’ll transform the Tampa Bay Buccaneers … into a Super Bowl team. Maybe he’ll look so much like his old self that, after a couple of weeks, we won’t focus on his new uniform.

“But it won’t be the same. And at a time when our world has been upended and we’re craving a normality that won’t be returning anytime soon, Brady’s departure feels weightier, as if there’s far more tied up in it than yet another big NFL move.”


Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report: “Brady’s move is an astounding moment involving an incredible player who just left a franchise he helped build into a mega-champion.

“Sure, Brady isn’t perfect, but he remains as close to a perfect football player as we’ve ever seen.

“And even if he isn’t that anymore, he still is good enough to turn a team as non-threatening as the Buccaneers—the damn Buccaneers!—into a Super Bowl team.”

Nora Princiotti, Boston Globe: “The signing isn’t official yet, but it is coming, per reports. And with the Buccaneers, Brady’s future football life will include the kind of young, talented supporting cast he did not have in New England in 2019. It will be in a place where his star will shine bigger and brighter than anyone else’s, and where he may be given influence not normally afforded players. It will also be in a place with an offensive system, a coach, and an organizational infrastructure wildly different from those Brady is used to…


“Other than money, the most enticing quality the Bucs had to offer was their roster. They have two genuine top-10 receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, competent tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, and an offensive line that’s capable to good. They have a decent running back in Ronald Jones and can add to that position…

“For 20 years, Brady has been one half of a partnership that’s won six Super Bowls and reinvented football. Brady, Belichick. Belichick, Brady. We’ve rarely seen the coach without the quarterback, never seen the quarterback without the coach. But in the first free agent decision he’s ever made, Brady chose playmakers, a fresh start, and a major challenge to find out who he is on his own.”


Ryan Hannable, WEEI: “It seems likely the [Patriots] will wait a few weeks for things to die down and then evaluate the quarterbacks still available. At that point, the QBs will just be looking for a job and the Patriots will not have to spend a big chunk of money. That is important because they really don’t have much money to spend.

“There really is no rush to add a quarterback, either. They have Stidham in their back pocket and training camp isn’t until July.

“So, when it comes to Brady’s replacement, stay patient. The answer likely won’t come any time soon.”


Dan Shaugnessy, Boston Globe: “There will be plenty of days to dissect and analyze why Brady is leaving …We may never know whether the Patriots made a serious bid to keep him or whether they effectively pushed him away with a lowball offer. Or no offer. As suspicions rise and conflicting stories surface, we’ll have slices of blame pie for Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft, Alex Guerrero, Gisele Bundchen, TB12, and all the other influencers in Brady’s life.

“But none of that will change the hard fact that the most decorated football player of all time, a New England sports god on a par with Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, and Ted Williams, has played his final game with the Patriots.


“This is not what our region needed in the early days of a coronavirus pandemic that has virtually shut down the entire nation, compelling most citizens to remain at home. By every measure, March 17, 2020, goes down as the most joyless St. Patrick’s Day in the history of Boston.

“With nowhere to go and nothing to do, we have plenty of time to contemplate what Tom Brady did for the Patriots and the region.”

Michael Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated: “Why did he want it? That’s a question that people will ask for the next two decades. There will probably be three sides to that story: Brady’s, Bill Belichick’s, and the truth. Belichick, for his part, did what he always does. He talked about Brady conservatively, with the unspoken understanding that while Brady is the most accomplished player in history, the Patriots are not a Hollywood movie. They are the best franchise in the NFL, much bigger than any one player. Even Tom Brady…


“It will be weird to watch Brady in another uniform in September (if there are even games in September). But we’ll get over it. We’re not really going to look back on Brady’s career in New England, which was the best in NFL history, and remember it mostly for that interception against Tennessee. That would be stupid. No matter what Brady does from here—winning one last Super Bowl, like Peyton Manning did, or flaming out like Unitas—we will always remember him as a Patriot, as the quarterback who won more than any other. They can make their business decisions. Our sentiments remain ours, forever.”


Karen Guregian, Boston Herald: “There were some who believed Brady wouldn’t have a market, and that he would ultimately return, open to whatever Belichick proposed. That didn’t happen. Instead, Brady factored in the overall situation in Foxboro — a situation that made him miserable last season largely due to a lack of weapons — and decided he would be happier elsewhere. In fact, he’s already feeling better.

“After speaking with Kraft and Belichick, Brady felt like there was “a huge weight” lifted off his shoulders, according to the source. Brady is said to be “excited and fired up,” over the next chapter of his legendary football journey.”

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