Tom Brady

Colts Notes: Brady, Rivers, Brissett, Vinatieri

We heard last week that Tom Brady‘s camp had expressed interest in the Colts, but that the interest wasn’t mutual as Indy opted to roll with Philip Rivers. But Indianapolis at least looked into the opportunity, as head coach Frank Reich revealed in a video news conference Tuesday, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I watched all of his tape from the last two years,” Reich said. “I think he’s still playing at a super-, super-high level. We know he’s the best of all time for a reason.” Still it wasn’t enough to move him in a different direction, as Reich said “we really felt like Philip was the right guy for us.”

For us, we got the guy we thought was the right fit,” he explained. “I don’t know if I’d say (Brady) wasn’t a fit. There’s always a fit when you have a great player, when you have maybe the best player of all time. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things.” One of those factors is of course Reich’s familiarity with Rivers, who he coached with the Chargers. Brady was likely attracted to the Colts’ coaching staff and offensive line, although things worked out alright for him with Tampa Bay. Still, the fact that the Colts explicitly chose Rivers over Brady is interesting.

Here’s more from Lucas Oil Stadium:

  • Reich reiterated that he didn’t feel like Rivers had lost anything physically, and called it a “crazy unique opportunity” to link back up with his old pupil, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “Just being there on the inside in the three years that I was and knowing the quarterback position like I do, I was so confident physically he was the right player and he had not lost anything,” Reich said Tuesday. “I didn’t notice any physical gifts diminishing.” He continued to rave about his new signal-caller, saying “when I tell you he’s elite intellectually, he’s at the top. There are a group of guys in the football world I would put in that category, not everybody gets those gifts. He has them.” Rivers will turn 39 in December and is coming off a down year, but he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2018. Not having to play 16 road games per year like he did in Los Angeles should help.
  • The acquisition of Rivers is sending Jacoby Brissett to the bench, and Reich spoke about him for the first time. “Honestly, he wasn’t happy about it,” Reich said after revealing he called Brissett shortly before they announced the signing of Rivers, via Wells. “But he’s a great teammate and a great leader, and I’m sure he’ll be good. Even though Jacoby isn’t a starter, but there’s nothing saying he can’t play,” he said. “We’re wide open. (Offensive coordinator) Nick (Sirianni) and I have been talking: What does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game? Seven plays a game? We’re open to that.” Brissett now has a $21.4MM cap hit to be a backup, so it makes sense they’d want to utilize him somehow.
  • Adam Vinatieri struggled mightily last season before being shutdown with a knee injury and having surgery. But despite now being 47, the legendary kicker is still contemplating playing another season, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. Reich said that he had seen Vinatieri at the facility rehabbing before COVID-19 closed it. “(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in that process,” Reich said. Reich said Vinatieri hasn’t yet made a decision on whether or not to retire. If he decides to keep playing, it’s entirely possible he’ll have to find a new team. Reich and general manager Chris Ballard caught some flak for sticking with Vinatieri so long when he was struggling, and their replacement Chase McLaughlin played well down the stretch. Vinatieri missed eight field goals and six extra points before getting shutdown with four games to go last year. When he underwent surgery, he said he wanted to keep the hope for a 25th season alive.

GM: Tom Brady Made Pitch To Buccaneers

Emerging late in the running and winning the Tom Brady sweepstakes, the Buccaneers are set for one of the biggest publicity spikes any NFL franchise has seen.

The Bucs edged out the Chargers for Brady, but the future Hall of Fame quarterback was interested in signing with Tampa Bay to the point he pitched himself to Bucs management. Brady first spoke to Bruce Arians and Jason Licht about a deal on Wednesday, March 18, and the seventh-year Bucs GM understandably exuded confidence in the team being able to sign the all-time great.

We had a great conversation — Bruce and I — we talked to him for over an hour and a half. And he made it clear in the conversation that he was very, very interested,” Licht said during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine). “It was almost like a recruitment on his part, telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay. The next call we made, we signed him, but it was at that phone call that we realized, that we felt like we had him.”

Licht first contacted Brady’s agent, Don Yee, the moment the legal tampering window opened at noon ET March 16. Two days later, the sides had an agreement in place. By Friday, the deal became official.

Brady signed a fully guaranteed two-year, $50MM deal. He joins a Bucs franchise that has Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. While Brady has been linked to an Antonio Brown reunion for a while, Arians slammed that door. Brady has displayed strong rapports with slot receivers throughout his career — from Troy Brown to Wes Welker to Julian Edelman — but the Bucs are also not expected to pursue another veteran wide receiver.

We feel like there’s a lot of teams that are struggling to find one really good receiver. And we have two really outstanding receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin,” Licht said. “Right now, there is only so much money that can go around. There are no plans to sign any other receiver at this time.

“Antonio is somebody that Bruce has come out and had some words about, and Bruce knows him better than all of us. So right now, I would just say that we’re focused on other areas of our team.”

In addition to Evans and Godwin, the Bucs have 2016 sixth-rounder Scott Miller and 2018 fifth-rounder Justin Watson under contract. Working behind the since-departed Breshad Perriman last season, those two combined for 359 receiving yards in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Notes: Winston, Jefferson, Crowell

Throughout his first season as the Buccaneers’ head coach, Bruce Arians was generally non-committal towards former starting QB Jameis Winston. In one memorable sound-bite towards the end of the 2019 campaign, Arians was asked if Tampa could win with a different signal-caller, and he replied, “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one (Winston), we can definitely win with another one, too.”

Despite that, Arians recently told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network that he is trying to sell other clubs on Winston (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). “I’ve called a couple teams,” Arians told Eisen. “You’re going to get one of the hardest workers you’ve ever had and a great young man.” 

However, none of the teams that Arians spoke with indicated they were interested in Winston as a starter. And indeed, teams that entered the offseason with QB needs have either filled those needs, plan to stay the course with their current group of passers, or are expected to use a high draft pick on a quarterback. So at this point, Winston will just need to get on a roster and hope that an opportunity opens up.

Now for more on the suddenly interesting Bucs:

  • We recently heard that the Buccaneers’ top QB choices were Tom Brady, then Teddy Bridgewater, then Winston, and Arians confirmed as much in the above-referenced interview with Eisen. “[A Winston re-up] didn’t work out for us only because [Brady] was available and we had [Bridgewater] if that wouldn’t have worked out,” Arians said. “We were going full steam ahead back with Jameis.”
  • After entering the offseason with a ton of cap space, the Bucs have only about $14MM left to spend, as Greg Auman of The Athletic observes, and some of that will be needed to sign the club’s draft picks. Auman takes a look at a few veteran FAs still available that could fit the Bucs’ remaining needs. One such player is safety Tony Jefferson, who played for Arians for four years in Arizona and who would represent a quality veteran presence in Tampa’s young defensive backfield.
  • The Bucs could wait until the draft to fill their need for a pass-catching RB, but if they are unable to do so or unwilling to wait, they could look at Isaiah Crowell, per Auman. Crowell does not have a past connection to Arians but did play for DC Todd Bowles when Bowles was the Jets’ head coach in 2018.
  • DB Ryan Smith re-signed with the Buccaneers several days ago, and Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports says Smith’s one-year deal has a max value of $2.25MM (Twitter link).
  • Even though Brady may want him, the Buccaneers have no intention of signing Antonio Brown.

Brady Fallout: Bucs, Belichick, Colts, Hoyer

The Buccaneers‘ signing of the most accomplished free agent in NFL history triggered a ripple effect in several cities. That started in Charlotte. Although neither Bruce Arians nor Jason Licht spoke to Tom Brady until Wednesday of last week, the Bucs believed they had a “shell of a deal” with Brady by Tuesday, Peter King of NBC Sports reports. This was hours before the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced he would no longer return to the Patriots. The Bucs’ discussions with Brady’s agent, Don Yee, Tuesday prompted them to bow out of the Teddy Bridgewater pursuit, King adds. Bridgewater’s Panthers offer prompted the Bucs to give him an answer, and they chose to stay in the Brady pursuit without a full commitment. The Bucs had been linked to Bridgewater for weeks.

At February’s end, the Bucs’ quarterback hierarchy went Brady-Bridgewater-Jameis Winston, King notes. Tampa Bay had also been linked to Philip Rivers in February, but it became clear the Colts were his top option.

Here is the latest fallout from the Bucs’ Brady signing:

  • Brady’s camp expressed interest in the Colts, but King notes the interest was not mutual. The prospect of a Rivers-Colts partnership surfaced shortly after the Chargers revealed they would not re-sign him, and while the notion of Rivers-over-Brady sounds interesting based on the veterans’ accolades, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets the Colts’ preference of going with a one-year quarterback arrangement probably did not align with Brady’s hopes of a multiyear commitment. Rivers signed a one-year, $25MM deal; Brady became a Buccaneer for two years and $50MM fully guaranteed. Brady also expressed interest in the 49ers, and the Titans were a long-rumored suitor. These franchises joined the Colts and Raiders in leaving the Brady race early.
  • Early this offseason, Brady’s camp put out feelers to other teams, and ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham notes many executives around the league viewed the quarterback as being driven by ill will toward Bill Belichick that they could not tell if he wanted out of New England or merely wanted Robert Kraft to step in and broker a new Pats deal. Belichick refused to give Brady the extension he sought last summer, and Wickersham adds that a Brady-Belichick conversation in late 2017 about the quarterback’s future with the Patriots ended with a “blowup.” This meeting appears to have happened just before Wickersham’s “tension in New England”-centered report that indicated Kraft’s intervention helped drive the Jimmy Garoppolo-to-San Francisco deal. The Patriots gave Brady an incentive package in 2018, leading to his extension-in-name-only 2019 contract.
  • As for the Patriots‘ plans, they may actually be planning a Brian HoyerJarrett Stidham quarterback battle. Hoyer could have earned more money elsewhere but wanted to return to New England because he was told he will have a chance to vie for the starting job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link). The Patriots, as of now, do not have Andy Dalton on their radar and are viewed as being high on Stidham, who has attempted four NFL passes.

Latest On Tom Brady’s Bucs Contract

After a multi-day wait, Tom Brady officially signed with the Buccaneers. He agreed to a two-year, $50MM deal that is fully guaranteed. But some incentives have emerged that would allow the all-time great to collect more from the Bucs. The contract contains a max value of $59MM, per Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter).

Brady would collect an additional $500K if the Buccaneers make the playoffs, with that payout spiking to $750K for a playoff win and $1.25MM if the team reaches the NFC championship game, Breer tweets. Were Brady to play in a 10th Super Bowl, his wins-based incentive package would bump to $1.75MM. A second Bucs Super Bowl title would net the future Hall of Famer $2.25MM. The Buccaneers have not made the playoffs since 2007 and have not won a playoff game since Super Bowl XXXVII.

Additionally, performance-based incentives are included in the deal. A $563K bump each would commence if Brady finishes in the top five in passer rating, touchdown passes, passing yards, completion percentage and yards per attempt, Breer adds. The Patriots sweetened Brady’s deal through incentives in 2018, but the then-41-year-old quarterback did not hit those performance-based benchmarks.

While this is probably a moot point at Brady’s age, Breer adds that only four of these performance escalators would pay out in a given season. The incentives max out at $4.5MM in 2020 and ’21, Breer notes. Regarding the team incentives, Brady would need to play in 75% of the Bucs’ snaps to trigger them. Brady has taken 75% of his team’s snaps in all but three NFL seasons — 2000, 2008 and 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Rumors: Brady, Edelman, Gilmore

We heard earlier this week that the Patriots made “no tangible effort” to retain Tom Brady, which drove Brady to leave Foxborough. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com paints a slightly different picture with respect to Brady’s departure, saying that Brady himself believed he had squeezed everything he could out of his relationship with head coach Bill Belichick (who may have felt similarly). Had Belichick approached Brady and suggested that the two sides do what they could to make sure the six-time Super Bowl champ finished his career with the Pats, Brady may have been receptive, but that is not Belichick’s style, and Brady never really expected that to happen.

The Patriots’ usual impersonal approach to their business, which has served them quite well over the past two decades, also played a role. The Pats generally withhold offers from players they are interested in retaining but who are allowed to test the market. That way, they avoid bidding against themselves and insulting the player, but by keeping an open dialogue, they are able to pounce if the price is right. In Brady’s case, no negotiations took place since August, and player and team may have been waiting for each other to make the first move.

Now for more from Foxborough:

  • So where do the Patriots go from here? Although New England is among the league leaders in dead cap charges for 2020 ($23MM), Reiss believes the club is in line for a reboot, not a rebuild. The Pats have a much rosier financial outlook in 2021, when they are projected to have roughly $100MM of cap space, so Reiss suggests they will look to get younger and clean up their cap situation this year so they can take full advantage of their flexibility next season.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe is more pessimistic about the Pats’ immediate prospects (though he does say that the salary cap ramifications stemming from a theoretical Brady re-up made it more logical for the team to part ways). He believes the club is in for a difficult rebuild, and while there do not appear to be any concrete trade rumblings, he suggests that New England could look into dealing WR Julian Edelman and CB Stephon Gilmore.
  • Indeed, Gilmore — the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — could be seeking a raise after seeing less accomplished CBs get PAID this offseason, and dealing him would certainly yield a nice return of draft capital. It depends, presumably, on whether the Patriots feel they can retool on the fly or need to tear down.
  • Despite being connected to Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton in offseason rumors, the Patriots have not discussed Dalton, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (via Twitter). We heard several days ago that New England would instead seek a cheaper veteran, and Howe suggests former Patriot Brian Hoyer could be in play (Twitter link). Hoyer, who was released by the Colts yesterday, is reportedly open to a reunion with the Pats.

Details On Raiders’ Pursuit Of Tom Brady, Quarterback Situation

Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer now and that’s settled, but we’re starting to learn more about the process that ended in him landing there. It’s been reported that the Chargers and Buccaneers were the only two teams to make concrete offers, and that Brady also had the option of returning to New England. But while some have said the Raiders were never that serious in their pursuit, Las Vegas was indeed “sniffing around Brady as late as this week,” sources told Vic Tafur of The Athletic.

While Tafur acknowledges that the Raiders never made an official offer to Brady, he writes that “some ballpark numbers were made known to him at some point.” Tafur also reports that the Raiders weren’t willing to spend the $50MM guaranteed the Bucs ended up giving over two years as the “game film the last two years just didn’t warrant that in the Raiders’ minds.”

Had Brady signaled to the Raiders that they were a “serious finalist,” they would’ve started shopping Derek Carr, Tafur writes. But while they were interested in adding the legendary Brady, that doesn’t mean they aren’t satisfied with Carr. Tafur writes that the team won’t be pursuing another veteran, and they won’t be making a surprise trade up in the draft to take a quarterback early.

Of course, the Raiders ended up signing Marcus Mariota in free agency, but Tafur doesn’t view him as a serious threat to Carr’s job. Instead he writes that many in the organization feel Carr deserves a third year in Jon Gruden’s system. Carr’s numbers certainly got better in his second year under Gruden, but the offense as a whole wasn’t great and Carr once again received a ton of criticism for being too risk-averse.

Carr and Gruden clashed on the sidelines a number of times and while they both downplayed the incidents, both Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock hedged instead of committing to him this offseason. Tafur no longer thinks the Raiders are considering Utah State’s Jordan Love with either of their first-round picks, so it sounds like Carr will be entering 2020 as the starter no matter what. How long his leash will be is an entirely different question.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Officially Sign Tom Brady

Tom Brady verbally agreed to sign with the Buccaneers on Tuesday. On Friday morning, the Bucs made it official: 

Tom Brady is officially a Tampa Bay Buccaneer!,” the club tweeted.

Brady, like the rest of the league’s free agents, was unable to take a physical exam with team doctors due to the travel restrictions. On Thursday, there were rumblings of a possible hitch – Brady was willing to get poked and prodded in New York, but the two sides had to agree on the doctor. Haggling over the MD turned out to be NBD: Brady is officially a Buc.

The future Hall of Famer has agreed to a two-year deal with a maximum value of $59MM, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The deal includes $50MM fully guaranteed – a nice locked-in pay day for one of the sport’s all-time legends.

Excited, humble and hungry …if there is one thing I have learned about football, it’s that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that,” Brady wrote on Instagram. “You earn the trust and respect of those around through your commitment every single day. I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the Buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do. I look forward to meeting all my new teammates and coaches and proving to them that they can believe and trust in me. I have always believed that well done is better than well said, so I’m not gonna say much more – I’m just gonna get to work!

The Buccaneers, as you might expect, are also pretty excited about their new QB.

Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his teammates,” said GM Jason Licht in a press release. “I’ve known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has. He possesses the type of rare natural leadership qualities that will immediately impact our entire organization.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Buccaneers, Tom Brady

Yes, it’s true: Tom Brady has agreed to join the Buccaneers. But, as of this writing, the deal has not been signed, because Brady has not been able to take a physical yet due to the league’s travel restrictions, Mike Florio of PFT (on Twitter) hears.

Still, this only seems to be a temporary hitch. Everyone is on the same page, Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears, and Brady is working to get a physical from a doctor in New York. Ideally, the physical would be conducted by the Bucs’ team doctors, but all parties involved are willing to make things work under these unprecedented circumstances.

We’ll keep track of the latest updates on Brady and the Bucs here:

  • The Brady effect has been huge for the Bucs’ free agency hopes. Since Brady agreed to go to Tampa, “an unexpected high number of players have reached out to the Buccaneers to let them know they want to join,” sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). This, perhaps, will give the Bucs extra motivation to get a deal finalized by the end of business on Thursday. Free agents are rapidly flying off of the board and they’ll want to capitalize before their top targets are spoken for.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Tom Brady’s FA Experience

As we await the terms on Tom Brady‘s new deal with the Buccaneers, Albert Breer of TheMMQB has tweeted out some of the quarterback’s “conditions.”

Brady was seeking a two-year deal that would be backed by guarantees, and while he was seeking $60MM, he was open to “creativity.” Of course, Breer also cautions that the negotiations weren’t entirely about money; after all, Brady wanted to “give his new team financial flexibility to add.”

Further, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that Brady presented these conditions to both the Buccaneers and Chargers, with both organizations agreeing to the financial terms. As a result, the further Hall of Famer was able to basically choose between the two franchises.

Florio provides reasons why Brady ultimately opted for Tampa Bay over Los Angeles, noting the difference in income taxes between California (13.3-percent) and Florida (zero). Staying on the east coast also allowed Brady to remain relatively close to his 12-year-old son who lives in New York, and Florio is of the opinion that the Buccaneers are in a better position to compete than the Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.