Everyone thinks the marriage between Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will only bring sunshine. What if it brings a storm instead?
By adding Brady, the Bucs now have the winningest quarterback of all time in terms of Super Bowl victories. Even now after the 2020 NFL Draft, everyone involved is all smiles and happiness. Will both the Bucs and Brady feel the same way after the 2020 season?
One reason why the Buccaneers were able to sign a quarterback with the pedigree of Brady is his age. He will be 43 years old at the beginning of the upcoming season. He is still playing at a high level but this age means he would probably not have been interested in signing with a rebuilding team and the same goes the other way around.
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Brady’s age means the Buccaneers are now in win-now mode. It seems like a great fit but, by adding Brady, the Bucs now have to accelerate their championship window. They may not even have this possibility without Tom Brady but the margin for error has now decreased by a large amount.
One change for the next two to three years for the Buccaneers is they no longer have the option to acquire a Plan B at quarterback while Brady is their Plan A. He showed in New England his lack of desire to play while having his understudy looking over his shoulder. Any high draft pick or solid free agent signing at the quarterback position is sure to bother and frustrate Brady.
He just removed himself from a similar scenario as he seemed bothered by both the drafting of Jimmy Garoppolo and Jarrett Stidham during his later years as a Patriot. Anything similar is sure to be thought of as a sign of disrespect by Brady. Thus, for better or worse, when the Tom Brady era ends for the Buccaneers, they will most likely be left starting all over at the quarterback position.
Since the Buccaneers went all in for Tom Brady they also committed to his running mate Rob Gronkowski for the 2020 season. Between Brady and Gronkowski, the Buccaneers have nearly $35 million in salary-cap space tied into two players. Once they sign their draft picks, there is not going to be much leftover for any additional signings without making another move to take away some salary.
If Brady and/or Gronkowski fail to live up to their previous standards or their contracts, the Buccaneers could be in serious trouble. They will need at least one if not both of those players to help hid roster deficiencies and mask any injury problems to the rest of the roster. If Brady misses time, there is no suitable replacement to replicate what he may be able to do under center.
His salary does not afford a capable backup. The only way for this would be a younger quarterback on their rookie contract, but Brady would probably not be open to this scenario.
The other main and potentially most important risk for the Buccaneers when it comes to Tom Brady is what he might to do the team’s culture. Most people have assumed Brady will bring positive contributions to the team culture.
He is a perfectionist, he’s business first and he is a workaholic. He has a championship pedigree and he can show his teammates what it takes to win. What if things go wrong? What if he finds himself unhappy with the way his coaches treat losses and he is unhappy with how his teammates work?
Brady showed during the end of his tenure in New England that he could become part of the problem and not the solution. He became increasingly impatient with his younger receivers and often visually berated them for their play. Will he do the same if Mike Evans or Chris Godwin runs an incorrect route during a blitz? Will he freeze out O.J. Howard if he drops a pass?
If he does these types of things or if he shows up coaches on the sidelines, will this behavior rub off on some of his younger and more impressionable teammates? For the Buccaneers, the team players went into this offseason with faith in their front office and coaching staff. If Brady sours on his experience, things could change in a hurry.
If Brady is unhappy with playcalling or the team’s culture, he also has a friend to now isolate himself with. He knows Gronkowski will support him and follow his lead with just about anything. As the players who have won Super Bowls, there is no doubt they will feel they would know better than the others.
This may not happen, but if there are any speed bumps during the season, it could unfold rather quickly. If Bruce Arians wants to go out for a few drinks after a critical loss to the Saints, will Brady wonder if he made a mistake? Could we see the melancholy and helmet tosses we watched from Brady at the end of last season in New England?
It is right to assume Brady will only bring his good traits into the locker room, but if he brings some of the bad, it could disrupt the team’s culture for years to come.
Tom Brady has accomplished many great things in his career and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were right to roll out the red carpet for him. Signing him brought many risks. Was he worth taking these risks? For a team and franchise like the Buccaneers, he definitely is.
If things go wrong and we see the bad side of Brady we all saw last season the effects could be long-lasting. Between Gronkowski and the draft, the Buccaneers have pushed all of their chips in for Brady. If all of this goes wrong, neither Bruce Arians or GM Jason Licht may be around for the rebuild.