The career path of the seven-time Super Bowl winner was changed by the choice of another renowned quarterback.
Although the Buccaneers possessed a good squad, they had not won a playoff game since 2002, therefore it was not a given that Tom Brady would join them after leaving the Patriots in 2020. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington speculates that if events had played out differently, Brady would now be playing for one of the Bucs’ NFC South rivals.
Last week on the ESPN Daily show, NFL insider Jeff Darlington revealed Brady’s fling with another Florida franchise, the Dolphins. The NFL recently made public that the Dolphins had initiated “impermissible” communication with Brady when he was playing for the Patriots in 2019 and 2020 and the Buccaneers in 2021 with the intention of Brady becoming a minority owner and starting quarterback for the Dolphins.
Even before Sean Payton resigned as Saints head coach in the offseason of 2022, the team had unofficial communications with him in January 2022. Darlington thinks that the pairing of Brady and Payton is no accident. Darlington claims that Brady would have replaced Drew Brees as the Saints’ starting quarterback under Payton if Brees had retired after 2020, when Brady was on the market for a new team.
In April, before the Dolphins’ tampering findings were public, he told WEEI about it and elaborated on it for ESPN Daily.
I need to reminisce a little bit about the time when Tom Brady was seriously considering leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The New Orleans Saints, led by Sean Payton, were also very good, Darlington pointed out. People don’t give Tom Brady and Sean Payton in New Orleans nearly enough credit. Tom Brady would have joined the Saints if our network’s Monday Night Football analyst Drew Brees had been hired.
As Darlington pointed out, Brees was seriously contemplating retiring that year, even telling Payton, “I’m done. I said, “I’m retired,” then quickly backtracked. With Brady already well established in Tampa Bay and a seventh Super Bowl ring on his finger, Brees would retire after the 2020 season and relinquish the keys to Jameis Winston.
Tom Brady has spent the most of his career under the tutelage of NFL legend Bill Belichick. He left New England apparently with the intention of signing with a team led by a coach who would put the players and offense first. After he was unable to sign with Payton, he decided to sign with Bruce Arians and the rest of the surging Bucs team. There’s no doubt that Brady’s desire to play for Payton, with whom he shares an agent, was a major factor in sparking the controversy surrounding the Dolphins in recent seasons.
Extended NFL Reporting:
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