Tom Brady apparently never talked about money or asked for control of the offense when he spoke with Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht over the phone Wednesday night.
Brady, according to Bucs reporter Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, came into what ended up as a 90-minute phone call as though he was recruiting the Bucs, not the other way around. His preparation, Stroud wrote, was “next level.” Stroud reported that Brady, who did a lot of the talking, spoke with “a teenager’s enthusiasm,” discussed winning, and made it clear he’s still ultra-competitive.
His only request, according to Stroud’s article, was the phone numbers of his new teammates. The Bucs reportedly had a detailed plan and believed going in that they’d have to make an aggressive sales pitch to land Brady. Instead, Stroud wrote, Brady interviewed them as much as they interviewed him.
The sides left with a mutual understanding, and what once appeared to be a long shot suddenly seemed like a legitimate possibility for a franchise that on March 13 had the sixth-best odds of landing him.
“The Bucs appeared to check all the boxes,” Stroud wrote. “When they hung up the phone, Licht and Arians looked at each other incredulously, as if to say, ‘Wow, this is really happening.'”
Money was reportedly last on the agenda when Brady’s agent, Don Yee, spoke with members of the Bucs this past Monday. Once an agreement was reached, they arranged a physical with an independent doctor in New York, where Brady was spending time with his 12-year-old son, Jack. He signed his contract Friday, and the pivotal phone call Wednesday appears to be a major reason why.
In the call, Brady said he knew all about Arians’s offense and was eager to operate it. He was also able to recite every Bucs offensive weapon and was reportedly intrigued to collaborate with Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
“He didn’t ask about them as players,” Stroud wrote. “He wanted to know, ‘Are they good guys?'”
Licht, who was in the draft room as a New England scout in 2000 when the Patriots selected Brady, called Evans and Godwin “the best.”
Brady was also impressed with how Tampa Bay’s defense closed this past regular season under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was previously the head coach of the New York Jets.
Though they were unsure what would happen if and when Brady became a free agent, the Bucs reportedly sensed Brady was getting frustrated. They were always interested in him, but they weren’t sure Brady was as intrigued as they were. As far as the Bucs are concerned, Brady can still play at an extremely high level.
“When they watch tape of Brady, the Bucs see no discernible deterioration of skills,” Stroud wrote. “There’s life in his arm, and he still moves well enough to get out of harm’s way.”