Tom Brady is on this spring’s season of “The Bachelor.”
OK, not really. But he is on our version of “The Bachelor: NFL free agency,” otherwise known as “The Brady-chelor” here at Sporting News.
The Patriots legend has been linked to several other teams this NFL offseason as he flirts with free agency. Brady’s decision looms over the entire football world. He is a hot commodity, and a handful of lovely teams are all vying for a rose at the rose ceremony. But to whom will Tom give the (Super Bowl) ring? Let’s meet our contestants.
First impression rose: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The bio: From the Sunshine State, we have the Buccaneers! This team loves long walks on the beach and sailing — nautical hobbies are their favorite. When wooing this team, Tom would be smart to bring jewelry; they love diamonds, gold and all things sparkly. A few of those Super Bowl rings should do the trick. While the Buccaneers may be younger than other NFL teams, they feel they still have a lot to offer. They’re not here to make friends, and they may not be in it for the right reasons. Tampa’s relationship with quarterback Jameis Winston proved frustrating at times, and might just be looking for a rebound. Does this team really want to find true love?
The football case: It wasn’t a secret Brady wanted more weapons last season in New England, and the idea of throwing to be the best wide receiving duo in the league is attractive. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are exactly what any quarterback would want. The problem is Bruce Arians’ offense is centered around downfield passing, and the 43-year-old Brady isn’t the same spry thrower he was in his younger days, back at age 40 when he was winning an MVP. The Bucs aren’t a quarterback away from winning the Super Bowl, and Brady isn’t an obvious fit in the system. Might Tampa Bay just be in this to give this fan base some excitement?
It’s also not a good sign when your new man (Arians) talks smack about his ex (Winston). Brady just wants to be loved and appreciated, and that’s not the sort of affection Arians showed Winston. When Arians was asked if this team could win with another quarterback, he responded, “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too.”
Relationship status: The other teams have brought to my attention that you might not be here for the right reasons. Initially, I thought I could see myself falling in love with you, but we just aren’t a great fit. It wouldn’t be fair to you if I kept you around knowing you’re not the team I want to spend the rest of my career with. Can I walk you out?
Two-on-one date: Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Chargers
The bio: The Chargers were born in Los Angeles, relocated south to San Diego shortly thereafter, and then moved back to the bright lights of the City of Angels to pursue their dream of becoming a model and actress. They love to travel (up and down Southern California, specifically). The Chargers’ biggest fears are heights, bumper cars and raisins. They love photography and prefer cleats to high heels any day! The Chargers are looking for someone who is serious, but can also make them laugh. They need a rock on which to build their future, a future that hopefully includes championships.
The football case: The Chargers just broke up with Philip Rivers. Are they ready for a new commitment so soon? It’s hard to say, but they do have an opening at quarterback, and Los Angeles is beautiful. This is still a team that is just a year removed from a 12-4 season, and nine of their 11 losses in 2019 were by seven points or fewer. A full season of Derwin James will help LA improve on its respectable 14th-ranked scoring defense. Brady could be the one to get them over the hump.
San Francisco 49ers
The bio: This team is here for the right reasons. In fact, Brady lived in the Bay Area as a child and grew up a fan. The 49ers love poetry and a good glass of wine. They need someone who will impress their Faithful family since they’ve come so close to success in the past. It may be awkward when the team reveals it was previously dating Jimmy Garoppolo, who was like a younger brother to Tom, but this team will have to be open and honest about its true feelings. While they might appear shy about asking Tom at first, there’s no reason to think the 49ers can’t find their quarterback soulmate.
The football case: If the top goal for Brady is to get a seventh Super Bowl ring, it’s hard to find a better option than the defending NFC champs. Their defensive line is elite. They ran the ball at the second-highest percentage in the league in 2019, so Brady wouldn’t have to carry the entire offense. Could he really cause a breakup between the 49ers and Garoppolo? Jimmy G is a former teammate. They went to the Kentucky Derby together for God’s sake. But hey, the cost of winning is high.
Would the 49ers really give up on their potential quarterback for the next decade for a one or two year fling with Brady? Garoppolo took his team to the Super Bowl, but so did Rex Grossman. A Super Bowl appearance shouldn’t lock Garoppolo into a lifetime contract, especially when he’s only played for one full season.
Two teams enter the two-on-one date, but only one can prevail.
Relationship status: I’m falling in love with you. Los Angeles, will you accept this rose?
Fantasy suites: So long, Las Vegas Raiders
The Chargers reached the hometown stage but couldn’t make the cut. Now it all comes down to the Fantasy Suite Week where Brady and the Raiders, Titans and Patriots can really get to know each other better.
The bio: This team is a new transplant to the Vegas area and has recently discovered their inner party girl. But this wild card knows they have to grow up sometime, and is looking to put down roots permanently. The Raiders work part-time as a fashion blogger and Instagram influencer. They’re great at poker and are looking for a man with whom they can run the table. The Raiders need a superstar to bring their love life (and game) to the next level. This team loves to go out and try new things, and Tom may just be on the menu.
The football case: The Raiders have come a long way to make it to the final three. They caught the eye of Brady right away. They’ve invested heavily into supporting their quarterback. Last season, only three quarterbacks who played all 16 games were sacked fewer times than Derek Carr. Running back Josh Jacobs likely would have been the Offensive Rookie of the Year if he didn’t miss three of the last four games. Brady hasn’t played with a running back with Jacobs’ production since Corey Dillon from 2004-06, and he has never handed the ball off to such a young stud.
A tight end might be a quarterback’s best friend, and the Raiders have a good one, too. Darren Waller broke out last year with 90 catches and 1,145 yards. We saw what the connection was like between Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Nobody can replicate that, but Waller is a star in the making.
Relationship status: *Unnecessary but inevitable* You’re an amazing person. Believe me, your next quarterback is right around the corner, and he’s going to be such a lucky man.
The Final Two
The bio: The Titans live in Nashville but stay true to their farmgirl roots! Raised on a cattle ranch, they love animals and the outdoors, but also know how to be a lady. This Southern belle is a free spirit who appreciates the finer things in life, but isn’t afraid to get a little dirty on the field. Tennessee was in a pretty serious relationship with quarterback Ryan Tannehill but might be looking for something new. They ideally want a quarterback who will hold the door for them, buy them flowers and tell them they look beautiful in their Color Rush uniforms.
The football case: Brady feels like he has known the Titans his entire career. He did play eight seasons with Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel in New England. The Titans are a safe option and might be the best fit. Assuming Derrick Henry comes back in 2020, Brady can orchestrate an offense that featured an unstoppable running game in the playoffs. A.J. Brown emerged as a legit outside threat and was a contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Titans would have to break up with Tannehill for Brady, but for a team that was one win away from the Super Bowl, it could be worth it.
Ultimately, is Tennessee exciting enough? It doesn’t have the glitz and glam of a Los Angeles or Las Vegas, but it could Brady’s steadiest situation.
Relationship status: I’m in love with you.
New England Patriots
The bio: The Patriots are strong and independent, and, technically, they do need a man to form a team. This team loves the city life but couldn’t imagine leaving home in the suburbs. They know people hate them but just assume their success has made everyone petty and jealous. They love being the center of attention and can’t seem to stay out of the spotlight. They won’t be too deflated if they don’t end up with Brady, because while they’ve had a few good years together, the writing has been on the wall for a while. The Patriots consider themselves practical and level-headed, but will their long-time tryst with Brady turn them into hopeless romantics?
The football case: From a pure football standpoint, the Patriots make the most sense for Brady. The New England offense is known to be one of — if not the most — complex systems in the league, yet it’s all Brady’s ever known. After spending his entire 20-year career with the Patriots, Brady has entered Michael Jordan territory as the GOAT.
The Patriots had a down year in 2019 that ended in a loss in the wild-card round for only the second time in Brady’s career, but they still went 12-4 despite a litany of injuries. It is something for Brady to consider. In theory, the offensive line will be healthy and much improved. The wide receiving corps should have more experience in the system. Tight end is the biggest need on the roster and free agents like Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper should both expect calls from New England. Brady didn’t look like himself last year, but it shouldn’t be assumed it’s because he’s fallen off a cliff. He’s just not a guy who can support a below-average supporting cast on offense in his 20th season.
In the end, it has to be wondered if this is about more than ego on either side. Belichick and Brady are the best in the history of football at their jobs. Brady was a sixth-round pick turned six-time Super Bowl champion with Belichick. Belichick went from being fired from the Browns and resigning after one day as the Jets head coach, into one of the best football minds of all time with Brady became his quarterback. They’re great as a duo, but do they want the world to know how great they are on their own?
Relationship status: I will always love you.
The Final Rose
Who will capture Tom’s heart and lock him down (to a new contract)? Tune in for the most dramatic season yet of “The Brady-chelor” premiering March 18.
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