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NFL

Brady’s Buccaneers

How will Tom Brady moving to Tampa Bay affect the NFL landscape? (Credit: Bleacher Report).

After 20 years with the New England Patriots, in which he won six Super Bowl’s, four Super Bowl MVP Awards, three NFL MVP Awards and was firmly cemented as the sport’s greatest player of all time, Tom Brady is taking his talents to (north of) South Beach, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Receiving a guaranteed $50 million over two years, Brady signed the kind of deal that is unheard of for a soon-to-be 43 year old quarterback.

After not months, but years of speculation and rumor of a rift between Brady and superstar coach Bill Belichick, one of the NFL’s age old questions will finally be answered: who is more responsible for New England’s 20 year dynasty? Regardless of how this plays out, one thing is for certain: the reverberations of this deal are going to be felt not just by those in New England or Tampa Bay, but by the entire NFL. 

We (Luca and Ryan) will be joining forces to discuss how we believe the 2020-21 NFL season will look for all parties involved.

TOM BRADY

Despite his unparalleled resume, the reality is that Brady is a 42 year old quarterback making a cool $50 million guaranteed before incentive bonuses, in the immediate aftermath of one of his worst statistical seasons in the NFL.

There was so much smoke around Brady’s departure, that it felt like it was almost a guarantee. The surprising part? The fact that he went to Tampa Bay over the red-hot favourites in the LA Chargers. However, when you delve a little into the numbers, there was no better fit from both a football perspective and a financial one (no personal income tax in Florida).

Despite pedestrian surface numbers, PFF took Brady’s atrocious receivers and offensive line into account last year, ranking him 12th amongst signal callers in the league. He had one top 50 receiver all year (Julian Edelman at 48) and the eye test showed a complete inability for his receiving corps to get any separation. On the other hand, the Bucs have two PFF top 6 receivers in the league on their roster (Godwin at 1, Evans at 6) and the #7 ranked offensive line (including the #2 composite rating for their interior offensive line). Brady would be licking his lips at all the weapons he has at his disposal, as well as the chance to play in the offense of one of football’s best offensive minds, Bruce Arians.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Although there’s a school of thought that Brady had to go this offseason to allow the Patriots to find their next franchise QB (a train of thought we subscribe to), the subsequent moves of the New England Patriots following Brady’s departure leads a lot to be desired. After slight murmurings of a Cam Newton or Jameis Winston signing early on in free agency, it now appears as if Belichick will be handing the reins to sophomore Jarrett Stidham. He’s 23 years old and has a rocket for an arm, but having thrown for just 18 career yards to date, there could be significant growing pains.

Furthermore, New England finished too high in the standings to be able to draft Joe Burrow, Tua Tagavaiola or Justin Herbert, meaning that barring an unforeseen move, they’re going to be hard pressed to find their franchise guy this offseason. All the chatter from the Patriots camp points to them being confident in Stidham as their guy for the season, but we don’t think an unproven 4th round pick is likely to take the world by storm. If any franchise could pull that off though, it’s the Patriots under Bill Belicheck – after all, Brady himself was a 6th round pick. We think this is the first time in a long time that the AFC East could have a new winner, with perennial baby brother Buffalo Bills and their new wide receiver addition Stefon Diggs.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

One of the NFL’s smallest markets just signed one of the biggest name free agents in NFL history, albeit at the end of his career. Not only does this open up a whole world of potential for the Bucs on the field, but they are seeing the benefits of their $50 million dollar investments already. There are rumours that since the addition of Brady, a host of remaining free agents have reached out to the Bucs, in the hopes of hitching a ride on the TB12 led ship. Off the field, Tom Brady’s latest iteration of the iconic #12 jersey is set to once again land amongst the best selling jerseys in the league. 

Despite all the off field benefits, this is still well and truly a football move for Tampa Bay. In terms of intangibles, Brady’s legendary work ethic is only going to be a good thing for a super talented, but young roster. In terms of quantifiable play, the Bucs move on from one of the least disciplined QB’s in pro football, Jameis Winston, to one of the most disciplined in Brady. Winston combined moments of electricity with the worst ball security in the league. He led the league in passing yards (5,109) and was second in passing touchdowns (33), but led the league with 34 turnovers (30 interceptions, 4 lost fumbles). For context, over Brady’s last 4 years (60 games) combined, he had the same number of turnovers, 34. Don’t underestimate the benefit of heightened ball security combined with elite passing weapons.

“I THINK THE PERCEPTION IS JUST WRONG,” ARIANS SAID WEDNESDAY, PER ESPN’S JENNA LAINE. “I THOUGHT HIS DEEP BALL WAS OUTSTANDING LAST YEAR. THROUGH THEIR PLAY-ACTION GAME, THEY HIT A LOT OF DEEP BALLS. AND OUR QUARTERBACK — I THOUGHT HE PUT IT AS GOOD AS ANYBODY — THROW IT TO THE GUY WHO’S OPEN.”

To Arians’ claim, ESPN Stats & Info have created and provided the following graphic , demonstrating Brady’s surprising downfield throwing proficiency.

Unlike his predecessor in Ryan Fitzpatrick, Winston appeared to completely ignore his best tight end in the passing game, OJ Howard. Howard was once touted as the next great tight end, but saw a sharp decline in numbers across the board with Winston as his QB. Brady is no stranger to force feeding mismatches at the tight end position, dominating the NFL with weapons such as Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. After having no quality tight ends on his roster in his final year of New England, look for Brady to return to doing what he does best – throwing quick strikes to huge targets between the hash marks.

THE NFC

If the people of Vegas are to be believed, Brady to the Bucs is going to shake up the entire landscape of the NFC. In fact, having Brady on the roster has placed the Bucs behind New Orleans and San Francisco as having the third best Super Bowl odds in the NFC. We don’t necessarily agree that he has that much left in the tank, as we’d also have teams like the Seahawks and Packers ahead of the Bucs. The Seahawks almost won the toughest division after suffering a horrific run of injuries, and the Packers are a pretty well balanced team across the board, so we couldn’t in good conscience put the Bucs over them after a 7-9 season the year prior. However, Brady’s brand of mistake free football could be what the Bucs need to properly unleash their plethora of offensive weapons. We wouldn’t be surprised if they comfortably take a wild-card spot in the upcoming season.

Our prediction: 10-6, with the potential for more if Brady somehow keeps defying all odds and plays to his 2018 standard.

The NFL is entering a 2020 season that is set to be one of the most interesting and unpredictable yet. Assuming the league goes ahead and Covid-19 is in the rearview mirror, the major talking points will be the flurry of off season changes that have already sent shockwaves throughout the league, headlined by TB12 moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will the Bucs be legit for the first time in nearly 20 years? Or will Father Time remain undefeated and finally claim the scalp of the sport’s greatest of all time?

Meanwhile, this upcoming season will be the first time in 20 odd years that there is genuine uncertainty surrounding the New England Patriots. Pundits don’t know whether they’re going to harbour Super Bowl hopes, or one of the best shots at Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft, making them the most polarizing team this offseason. The entire world changed after the fall of the Roman Empire, so if the latter were to occur, what will this dynasty’s potential collapse spell for the NFL?

As always share your thoughts, who are your winners and losers of this move? And what do you think this means for the league moving forward? Find us at @SidelineSpiceLD and @SidelineSpiceRy on Twitter, or join in the discussion on our Facebook.