Tom Brady looked to be the first person who compete with Father Time.  He had ambitions of playing until he was 50 years old. Two seasons ago I was even inclined to believe him.  Life has a cruel way of reminding us that it remains supreme even for football’s most precious darling. In a season where the Patriots ended up leading the league in defensive yards allowed per game, points allowed, rushing touchdowns allowed, pass completion percentage for opposing quarterbacks, passing touchdowns allowed, and league leading +21 turnover differential it looked like Tom Brady’s aging arm just needed to play smart football to secure another Super Bowl.  As the season wore on, Tom Brady became a real liability. He finished the season with his lowest total yards with 4,057 yards since 2010 disregarding the 2016 season in which he missed 4 games due to the infamous Deflate Gate. Tom Brady’s waning skills really shined through in the Patriots must win week 17 game against the lowly Dolphins to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. His passes lacked a real sense of weight when traveling more than 15 yards down the field.  It goes without say that his pick six raised a lot of concern as well. Still, even after a devastating loss that everyone expected the greatest quarterback of all time to home in his skills come playoff time. The result was less than stellar. A 54.05% completion percentage, 209 yards, no touchdowns, and 1 interception was the definitive reason the Patriots lost that early in the playoffs since 2009. On December 30th, 2019 hosts Sharp and Shapiro discuss whether they believe Tom Brady had played his last season in the NFL.  This discussion takes place just before the playoff game.   Shapiro starts the discussion: “Do you think that this could be Tom Brady’s last game if they lose?”   Sharp responds: “I am not guaranteed if he retires.  I think it’s his last game as a New England Patriot.  You know one of my close buddies that I have conversations with on a pretty consistent basis.  He brought up a pretty interesting point. He said, ‘LA needs football. The Chargers are basically an embarrassment.  Rivers is gone.’ I would not be shocked, because this would be great for the NFL, if Brady left the Patriots and finished his career as a Los Angeles Charger.”   As of January 7th, 2020, the favorites to land Tom Brady are the Cleveland Browns at +550, followed by the Panthers, Raiders, and Chargers at +600.  I believe it is most likely that he stays with the Patriots. There doesn’t seem to be as clear of a fit as there was when Payton Manning left the Colts.  That Broncos team needed any quarterback not named Tim Tebow and they were guaranteed at least one Super Bowl. The Browns have a great offensive roster but not the culture that would Brady would feel comfortable with.  The Chargers have a slew of great offensive weapons including Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler. They were 11th in the league in average sacks allowed per game.  They were even 6th in the league in yards allowed per game.  They clearly make the most sense for Tom Brady, so I have to agree with Sharp in this case.  The only chance the Raiders have is the Jon Gruden connection. He has proven to have success with veteran quarterbacks such as Rich Gannon.  No one other than Tom Brady could match Gruden’s work ethic and the two would get along perfectly. The Raiders also boast a top NFL offensive line. The main issue is the Raiders roster overall.  Tom Brady would definitely enjoy weapons such as Foster Moreau, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs but the Raiders lack a real number one wide receiver. If they are able to add someone like Jerry Jeudy, A.J. Green, or Robby Anderson than the picture becomes much more palpable for Brady.  The Raiders defense was also atrocious although it did suffer numerous key injuries. If there is a hope for Raiders fans, it’s that the Raiders have the third most cap space going into the offseason which could become much larger by cutting Derek Carr and saving about 17 million in cap space. That would mean that the Raiders could comfortably offer Brady the most money of any of the teams on this list while also building a better roster.  Everything would have to go right for this to happen. The Panthers seem like a long shot for a team that has one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. In addition, they just hired a new head coach from the collegiate level, and I would imagine he would want someone with more experience. They greatest lifeline they have is with Christian McCaffery. We all know Tom Brady loves receiving backs and that would give him the greatest receiving back to ever play that position. Still, there are too many reasons for him to stay away to make that a viable option.  Another team that comes to mind that wasn’t on this list is the Bears. They have an elite defense and some really good offense pieces such as Allen Robinson and Tarik Cohen that he would love to have. The real issue is that I’m sure Brady would not want to compete with Aaron Rogers for that division over the course of the next two seasons.   Shapiro gave his prediction for the soon to be Titans game: “What do you make of this game? I think the Titans have at least a 20% chance of winning this game.” Sharp responds: “Prime time.  Only game on Saturday night in Gillette.  You got Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown the new rookie wide receiver, Corey Davis.  They have a ton of talent defensively including Logan Ryan who used to be a Patriot. They want this game.  Mike Vrabel used to be a Patriot. There is a lot of connections to this Patriot team. The Patriots, they’ve had problems which big powerful, fast running backs and Derrick Henry is the definition of that.  I love the Titans in this game.”   As I mentioned earlier the Titans were able to knock out the Patriots in New England.  While it is quite impressive that Sharp was able to predict this, I believe it is more of a testament to how much of a decline Tom Brady showed this year.  The Patriots had the overwhelming best defense in the league meaning all they needed was for Brady to be good and he wasn’t. Some of his short comings can be attributed to the fact that he had a limited number of weapons on offense.  He lost Josh Gordon earlier in the year due to his drug problems and Antonio Brown because of the sexual assault allegations. Perhaps there could have been a balance between Brady’s weakening arm strength and a supporting cast that could have elevated the offense to a high enough level.   Shapiro comments on the Titans game and on Tom Brady: “I do agree with you.  I think this is probably Tom Brady’s last year (As a Patriot).  I don’t think he wants to lose in he wants to lose in what you kind of call a playing game. I don’t think Tom Brady wants to end his career with a loss in a playoff game.  In Gillette.   I think this is probably the most reassuring thing we can say about Tom Brady.  Right now, there really aren’t any favorites to where he will be playing next year. We do know that Tom Brady does want to continue playing football.  His desire to play is going to get him a contract wherever he wants to play for the most part. He definitely has a better outlook next year compared to Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Eli Manning.  Drew Brees’ arm looked like it had minimal power despite the greatest assembly of offensive weapons in the league. Phillip Rivers posted an abysmal 23 touchdowns to 20 interceptions, many of which were in the last 2 minutes throughout the season.  We all know that Eli Manning could be a really solid backup quarterback for the next few seasons but doesn’t seem interested in continuing a role from the bench. The saddest part of all of this is that fact that all these Hall of Fame quarterbacks’ careers are ending. The future of the league with names like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson appear to be officially beginning a new era.  Do these aging quarterbacks even have a place in the league anymore? Should Tom Brady just retire? We will find out.          
Spencer Ostrovsky

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