So, I feel legally obligated to comment one what is the most important off-season story in Football.
What the fuck was Billy O'Brian thinking? You trade the #1/#2 WR in the NFL for a running back? With THAT contract?
I always knew it would not end well for Tom Brady in New England. That's not how Bill Belichick does things here. HE did not do it with Vince Wilfork; not with Malcolm Butler; not with Asante Samuel; not with Randy Moss or Wes Welker or Mike Vrabel or Ty Law or Adam Venateri or Troy Brown or Lawyer Malloy.
But we knew this (but did not care that we knew) back in 2002 when Belichick traded then-Patriot Legend Drew Bledsoe (please- it was 2002, we had so few people to ID as "legends" back then so... ) IN THE DIVISION! Fuck you, we don't care, go piss up a rope, we are moving on. Don;t care you took us to a Superbowl; don't care you had metal sticks pocking out of your throwing hand during a game after an injury; don't care you played with a collapsed lung and almost bled out; don;t give a shit you spelled Brady in the AFC championship game. Go freeze in Buffalo then fuck cows in Texas and make wine in California. We don't care about you anymore.
And that was everyone.
Tom Brady became the greatest football player who ever lived in early 2017 when he lead the New England Patriots to a completely LUDICROUS 25-point deficit comeback to win the Patriots 5th Superbowl. Though the Pats would go on to win a 6th Supwerbowl two years later (its insane I just wrote that), Brady's legacy was already cemented. He had won 6 Superbowls, been to 3 others and had lead the Pats to the playoffs in 18 of his 20 seasons (the only 2 were 2002 and 2008 when he was KO'd for almost the entire season). He was unflappable in the pocket, had a variety of QB records, almost all the worthwhile post-season QB records and blah blah blah blah blah ... and did it with far less talent than most other QBs of his era had. Blah blah blah...
So, lets turn to how much sense this all makes. Tom Brady is 67 years old (give or take), and is still (somehow) an effective QB throwing the ball to Julian Edleman, running backs, 3/4 of a tight end split between 4 players and 3 wide-receiver shaped tackling dummies. Brady is still a very good QB. But he's not even on the back-9 of his career; he's on the back 2. It becomes a difficult situation for a team to say to a guy who is 58 years old "Here's a three year contract."
But somebody will do it.... Meanwhile...
Kirk Cousins just inked a 2 year, $66,000,000 contract with the Minnesota Vikings, including a $30,000,000 signing bonus, $66,000,000 guaranteed. Ryan Tannehill signed a 4 year, $118,000,000 contract with the Tennessee Titans, including a $20,000,000 signing bonus, $91,000,000 guaranteed.
QBs are getting paid. And they are getting paid with incredible amounts of guaranteed money. This is not like 5 years ago when Andy Dalton got paid in funny-money- ie non-guaranteed money.
And Tom Brady wants to be paid at that market rate.
I can't blame him.
The Patriots then had a decision to make- do they try to ink with Brady a 3-year $30+ Million contract OR do they ... sign Andy Dalton? Jarrett Stidham (whose name I will find 80 ways to misspell over the next year before he is run out of town)? Draft somebody? Play without a QB? What's the plan? Do we have one? We have known this day was coming for months... what ... what will the Pats do?
Nobody knows. In fact, it seems like the plan, all along, was to have Brady play the market, leave and then let COVID-19 hit and wipe out the 2020 season. So, all signs are good so far. Except that it seems like we will have a season and Brady will do it someplace else. Probably LA; maybe TB, not Tenn. And the pats will rely on somebody to take snaps from the Center.
BTW, the Pats' highest paid player is Gilmore (obviously and that is money well spent). Number 2? Their guard, Joe Thuney (and currently the fifth highest paid player on the team is Shaq Mason, another guard). I don;t know what to think about that except that I think if the Pats REALLY WANTED TO they could find a way to shave some money and get it to Brady.
They don't want to.
And I can't blame them.
This sucks. The Patriots died at home against the Tenn Titans but had been sick for months. A mid-range team with no real upside. And Brady was a part of that. But another part were the mid-range talents the team had surrounding him, most notably a Running back that could not, you know, run; a worn out and destitute crop of TEs and a woefully under-talented WR core. The D was great against terrible teams and bad against everyone else. And Tom Brady- unlike other years like 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2018 when the Pats had mediocre teams and Brady was somehow able to get them to the AFC Championship game or better - was unable to "make everyone around him better." In fact, Brady seemed miserable all season, the notable exception being week 1 and 2 when he had the promise of playing with Antonio Brown. After that, Brady was dour after wins and losses (and as the season wore on there were lost more losses than wins). He believed the team had not made a commitment to the offense and giving him good weapons.
But the team HAD invested in the O; they had spent numerous high draft picks on Offensive weapons- Phony Michelle, N'Keal Harry, and Isiah Winn (another fucking Guard). Meanwhile, nothing seems to work. Brady cannot get on the same page with the new guys and relies too much on the one guy he is familiar with, perpetually injured and/or suspended from PED-use, Julian Edleman. It seems that Brady's best way to try to adapt to his new reality is to beg Gronk to comeback.
But can you blame him? Look at his TE core Matt LaCosse? Ryan Izzo? Last year they had one of the few players - Ben Watson -who was almost as old as Brady catching passes from him. Muhammad Sanu ran the wrong routes and then give up on them or dropped the pass when Brady adjusted. Harry was on IR half the season and then on the field was spectacularly pedestrian. Sony Michelle earned the "phony" nickname. They were awful.
So its going to end like this. The greatest Qb and player in NFL history- from the Snow Bowl, to that drive against the Rams; the dueling with Rothlessberger and Manning and then out-dueling Mahomes and Watson; that drive against NO, defeating Wilson in the battle of the franchises in 2014; to eking out a SB against Goff and the new Rams. And everything in between.
But down by 25 against Atlanta?
For me, it will be that Superbowl against Wilson and Seattle. That game was huge. The Seahawks were about to win back-to-back Superbowls; it was their time to be the new Dynasty, but instead Brady went something like 11-for 14 in the 4th quarter for something like a 120 Passer rating and 2 TDs. As amazing as that Atlanta SB was- and it was - the one game where Brady was the most important player ever, it was that one. Dumb pass in the 4th Q notwithstanding.
But one moment? Easy. New Orleans, 14 seconds left, pass to Kembrell Tompkins in the back of the endzone to win it. Unicorns and show-ponies.
I think we always knew it would end like this, this way and this broken up. Brady will end up on another team, with another horrid logo on his helmet.
And in Foxboro, Dark Hoodie got what he wanted- a team that is now and forever after simply his and his alone. He failed- understandably - to keep Brady. But he also lost Jamie Collins (to the Lions); has not gobbled up any of the available talent (Diggs, Cooper, Hopkins) and has generally stagnated so far this off season. What will 2020 look like? It can't be good.
But fro Brady, I hope he does really well wherever he lands. But history does not look well there. Namath in a Rams uni; Montana in a Chiefs (he actually did well there), Unitas as a Charger. Just gross. And now its going to happen to Brady. I hope he, once again, bucs the odds (see what I did there?).
It was an unbelievable ride. And he was the major reason for it- the best QB in the most QB-dependent era in the sport's history with the most hardware to show for it. He gave me the privileged to root for the best ever. I can never have a bad feeling for him (unless he turns into a right-wing yahoo like Shilling... but even then... ).
It was and he was the best.