The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to sign former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to an undisclosed deal that will pay him at least $30 million per year, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. According to his sources, the only thing holding up the finalization of the contract is TB12 making it official that he’ll be a member of the TB Bucs.
The pluses for are huge from a fantasy football perspective. New England has far more question marks going into the summer months, when it comes to offensive personnel, and the talent disparity is readily evident. Tampa Bay’s wide receivers are arguably the best in the business, led by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Free-agent wideout Breshad Perriman could return, as well, after showing he can get it done late last season. Toss in tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate to create one of the most dangerous passing games in league.
Brady, who’ll be 43 years old come Week 1, has lost a smidge of his deep-ball ability, but his accuracy remains surgical most of the time, and the velocity is still adequate. Intangibly, there’s more football knowledge between those years than anyone can imagine. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians loves to sling the ball, but he may need to manage Brady’s arm reps, at least in practice. It begs the question about a trustworthy checkdown. Brady at his best has had slot guys like Julian Edelman and Wes Welker that he can throw to in his sleep, and this team’s personnel is geared toward Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” vertical mentality of driving the ball down the field.
The six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback will play behind a quality offensive line, ranked seventh by ProFootballFocus.com. Right tackle Demar Dotson is a free agent and is hardly irreplaceable. The position is deep in the draft, and there are a few respectable free agents available if Dotson doesn’t return. The interior combination of center Ryan Jensen and left guard Ali Marpet combined to rank as the second-best duo for pass protection up the middle, per PFF.
Running back is in dire need of an upgrade. Peyton Barber is a free agent, and Ronald Jones was hit or miss last season. The draft or free agency could turn around the fortunes of this running game in a hurry, though. The running game doesn’t need to be elite, although a reliable backfield is the best way to help keep Brady’s arm from falling off … if the Bucs win it all in 2020 with the GOAT throwing it 650-plus times, something tells me Arians won’t care in hindsight. For the record, Brady threw 613 passes vs. the 626 Jameis Winston tossed for the Bucs last year.
The system itself is likely to be tailored to Brady’s preferences for methodical passing, slowing matriculating up the field with checkdowns to backs, underneath routes to the slot receivers, and chain-moving throws to the tight end position. Arians’ offenses never have been great for tight ends, and Howard was an unmitigated disaster most of 2019. Brate was serviceable went called upon.
Arians has worked with marquee quarterbacks before, including Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning, and he resurrected Carson Palmer’s career. Arians is known for his creativity in the passing game, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has received praise for his hand in the explosive system. There’s plenty to like about the combination of these coaches and Brady’s talents.
Tampa Bay has an up-and-coming defense under coordinator Todd Bowles, and two teams in this division are trending the wrong way. New Orleans will be the primary competition for Brady’s Bucs. Outside of two AFC powerhouses, Brady’s former conference is wide open. It will be much tougher to succeed in the NFC’s parity-laced talent distribution.
Fantasy football outlook
At 43 years old in the 2020 season, does Brady have enough left for one more elite fantasy season? He finished 14th last year in what surely can be classified as a down season. The weaponry has dramatically improved with Brady’s move, and the 2019 iteration of this team posted the second-best fantasy football passer numbers in the league.
Fantasy football drafters should bump Brady up into the lower tier of No. 1 fantasy passers, although it would be foolish to not add a top-flight backup in case he proves to be mortal.
One thing should be for certain in this situation: Never underestimate the cavernous chip on Brady’s shoulder.