The Patriots season has ended in disappointment after being upset in the first round of the playoffs. With this disappointment, the franchise finds its future up in the air. All speculation is centered around future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady, whose contract will officially expire at the beginning of the offseason. Will he re-sign? Will he retire? Will he join another team? Here we consider potential paths for Brady, and how the Patriots can set themselves up for future success with or without him.
Right around one-third of the league will be in search of a new starting QB this upcoming offseason, either because their current starter’s contract has expired or because they simply don't have a good starter in the first place. But this list of suitors can be narrowed down, as we can eliminate teams that are almost certainly going to draft a QB. To get even more specific, we can remove destinations that we know he probably wouldn’t go to, teams that even if he would join would be far from contention, or teams with unproven management.
So assuming none of those teams magically gets better before Brady signs, that leaves us with four top options. Out of those four, the least likely home is New Orleans, which could be a surprising choice for some who don’t understand their current situation. All three of their current QBs are free agents, and it is not certain if any will return to New Orleans. Brees, like Brady, is mulling retirement while also remaining coy on if he will re-sign.
Their backup with starting-caliber ability, Bridgewater, is probably looking for a new team and a big-money contract. Lastly, you have receiver/rusher/passer Taysom Hill, who is a restricted free agent, but also isn’t really a QB. He is at his best when passing sporadically, mainly in trick plays. The Saints are smart enough to know that Hill probably shouldn’t be starting. A 13-3 playoff team with insane offensive threats could possibly be looking for a QB, so both Brady and the Saints would be foolish to overlook each other.
Then you have another interesting choice in the Titans, who are on the verge of breaking out. Unfortunately for a potential Brady-Tennessee union, they will probably re-sign Tannehill. Tannehill fits perfectly with the system, playing like a top-five QB for the first time in his career. He knows that he may only be successful in Tennessee, so why leave? But if for some reason he does leave, and Mariota also declines to resign, then Brady should at least consider joining a team packed familiar Patriots teammates. They even have the best running game in the league led by Derrick Henry, and a great young receiver in A.J. Brown. With the addition of Brady and one other offensive weapon, the Titans offense could be lethal.
It would be a cool pairing, but it remains unlikely compared to Tampa. Yes, it is a crazy-sounding option, but just remember that Jameis Winston somehow got the team to a top-five offense. If Brady were to make his interest obvious to Tampa, he would get paid an absurd amount to lead an extremely exciting young offense with unimaginable potential. He can aid in the development of young stars, putting together an insane offense.
But even with all of that promise, Brady would probably prefer a more mature team like the Chargers. The Chargers have multiple 900-yard receivers, one even being a running back, in addition to a young star tight end. They boast a young defense to carry the team when Brady is off the field, something that not many teams can offer. If Philip Rivers decides to retire, or simply leaves the team, the Chargers are THE most probable destination for Brady.
Replacement Options for Patriots
In the case of Tom leaving, the Patriots would obviously have to fill that void. They could try to trade for a quarterback, but better ones are going to be available in free agency. Bridgewater was great when he played for the Saints, finishing with season totals of nine touchdowns, only two interceptions, and almost a 100 passer rating, but he doesn’t fit the specific style of a Patriots offense. So while Bridgewater is definitely a possibility, it is unlikely. The same goes for Dak, who will most likely get re-signed by the Cowboys anyways.
The Patriots would also not go for an older QB like Brees, Tannehill, or Rivers, as they would want a few prime years of whoever they spend big bucks to sign. So a big pickup in free agency appears unlikely, which leaves Belichick the option of using his preferred method, which is to draft a new franchise QB. They drafted a solid QB last year in Stidham, who is one of the best options as of now to at least try next season.
With Bill’s history for draft quarterbacks, it would be no surprise if he found a star, especially with multiple picks in the first three rounds of a highly stacked QB draft. The most likely scenario is the Pats drafting Fromm in the first round. Out of Georgia, he is one of the best QBs in the draft and will probably fall to them at 23rd. He, for the most part, fits New England’s offensive style and has shown the IQ to adjust if needed. Eason is another option, but falls in a weird place between two Patriots picks. This meansthat they would either have to use a more valuable pick to get him, pray that he falls to them, or trade-up.
If the Patriots strikeout in getting Dak or Bridgewater, you can be sure that they will draft a QB somewhere early on in the draft. With a newly drafted QB as well as Stidham, the Patriots have a great shot to replace Brady if he leaves.
Let's just hope Belichick has a plan in mind to get back to the Super Bowl either way.