Tom Brady has been a Patriot since entering the league in 2000 as the 199th overall pick. Many seasons and six Super Bowls later, it's all over. Brady announced today on social media that he would be playing football elsewhere next season. He stopped short of announcing where he will play in 2020 but there are two clear favourites to land the superstar quarterback.
Tampa Bay or Los Angeles?
According to all reports the two teams realistically in the running to sign the future hall of famer are the Buccaneers and the Chargers. The Bucs emerged as favourites and currently sit at 8/13 to be Brady's next team.
The strongest talk has all be around Tampa Bay and what they can offer for the 42-year-old. They have elite receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. A good offensive line and a coach that has shown he can get the best from a quarterback in Bruce Arians. Florida's lack of state tax can only help things along with the reported $30m+ contract reportedly on the table.
The Chargers are 6/5 but make little sense outside of being in California where Brady grew up, they don't have nearly as much to offer. The struggle to fill a small stadium, let alone their new home and the poor offensive line could leave Brady getting hit all game long. If it isn't the Patriots then I can't see Brady playing anywhere but Tampa Bay and 8/13 might be good value, even at a short price.
Ring number seven
The Buccaneers offer him the best chance at picking up another ring of the two options, but would they be in a position to realistically challenge in a competitive NFC and a strong division in the south? They are 22/1 or as big as 3029/1 on the exchange to win the Super Bowl and 12/1 for the NFC Championship. If you believe that Brady and Arians can do it then it is probably the best time to back it as that price will fall further if he does sign.
The Saints would start the season as favourites for the NFC South but with Drew Brees showing signs of age, the door could be open for Tampa to steal the crown away.
The NFC is full of contenders though. The newly expanded playoffs still will not leave enough space for all the teams that look like contenders. Even teams like the Cardinals look to have a legitimate shout after acquiring DeAndre Hopkins yesterday. The 49ers still look to be the strongest team in the conference though and are rightfully favourites to win the NFC Championship. They have lost very little outside of DeForest Buckner and while he is a real talent, they now have two first round picks to help fill the few holes they have. They would be my pick to once again represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
The AFC contenders
The Chiefs are the defending champions and lead the market at 6/1 for a second straight success. But it is the Ravens that have caught they eye in the early part of the offseason. The additions of the fearsome Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers improve an already very good defence. And the offence is obviously one of the very best in the league. Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP and will only have benefited from another season in the NFL. If they can add another weapon in the passing game either in free agency or the draft then they would be the class of the conference for me.
They are 13/2 second favourites and I wouldn't feel comfortable backing anybody else right now. The AFC is clearly weaker. Even if Brady were to sign for the Chargers it is hard to see that roster as capable of making a challenge. Teams may emerge but it looks to already be a two horse race and I would back the Ravens to be the ones to come out on top in that battle. Baltimore could have been considered the most talented team in the league already, and their early free agent signings have done nothing but help that claim. Back them now to take home a first Super Bowl in nine years.