- Hall-of-Fame QB’s Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are among the big names available in NFL free agency
- On Tuesday morning, Brady announced on Instagram he will be continuing his career outside the New England Patriots organization
- That, and other questions about NFL free agency are answered in the story below
NFL free agency officially gets underway on March 18th. But March 16th is the date that teams can legally tamper with free agents. And already, there’s some big talk there.
See where the top free agents are expected to land, including Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston, among others.
Tom Brady is apparently about to buck the New England Patriots. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favored to land him.
For the longest time, the betting lines were suggesting that Brady’s next team wouldn’t be new at all, but Tuesday morning’s Instagram announcement all but assured his time in Foxborough is over.
That’s where Brady’s played since New England drafted him with the 199th overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft. It’s the team he led to a record six Super Bowls.
Odds on Brady’s Team for Game 1 of 2020 NFL Regular Season
|Team||Odds at BetOnline on March 16||Odds on March 17|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-150||+125|
|New England Patriots||+110||N/A|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+600||+150|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1000||+800|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+1200||N/A|
Odds updated Mar. 17
Now, though, it would appear that when it comes to the long-term relationship between Brady and the Pats, all bets are off.
There’s been a seismic shift in the odds on this front. As recently as Feb. 28, odds were -150 that Brady would stay with the Patriots.
The tampering window has opened and #Patriots QB Tom Brady’s agent can hear from teams. My understanding: The #Chargers and #Bucs will inquire, and of course New England wants him back. That is Brady’s market as of right now.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
This is the first time in his 21-year NFL career that Brady, 43, has been offered the freedom to negotiate with teams beyond New England, and he will now be taking advantage of the ability to pick where he will play until retirement.
Bucs Making Big Pitch
There are published reports that Tampa Bay is already coming at Brady with a significant offer. The Buccaneers were the NFL’s #1 passing offense (302.8 yards per game) and the league’s #3 overall offense (397.9 YPG) in 2019. That would certainly be appealing to a QB.
Brady’s preferred choice was reported to be the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. Brady was born in San Mateo, less than 20 miles from San Francisco.
I am told the Tampa Bay Bucs have made the intentions to Tom Brady loud and clear.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 16, 2020
The 49ers, though, have informed Brady that they plan on staying with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Garoppolo launched his NFL career as Brady’s understudy in New England. The Chargers are also expected to make a play for Brady.
For those who find it hard to consider Brady in another team’s uniform, remember that Johnny Unitas ended up a Charger and Joe Montana a Kansas City Chief. Brett Favre left the Green Bay Packers and landed with the (OMG) New York Jets, and later (can you believe it?) the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay’s hated rival.
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-150)
The difference with Rivers is that the Chargers have already bid adieu to him. It’s a certainty that he’ll be landing with a new team. At the present time, the favorite to be that team looks like the Colts.
Odds on Rivers’ Team for Game 1 of 2020 NFL Regular Season
|Team||Odds at BetOnline|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+600|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+600|
|New England Patriots||+2500|
Indy’s been the chalk in this race from the outset. The odds of Rivers and the Colts pairing up are steadily improving. He was +140 to Indy’s next QB on Feb. 28. Today, the Colts are heavy -250 odds-on favorites.
As the legal tampering period kicks off at noon, would fully expect the Colts to pursue former Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers, though Indianapolis also will look at other QB options.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2020
Indy has made it clear that the team is looking at several options at QB. None will prove a better fit than Rivers.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts (-250)
After nine seasons, it appears Andy Dalton’s time with the Bengals has come to an end. Cincinnati holds the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and will surely be taking Heisman Trophy-winner Joe Burrow.
Odds on Dalton’s Team for Game 1 of 2020 NFL Regular Season
|New England Patriots||+350|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+500|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+600|
|New Orleans Saints||+1200|
While there are plenty of teams who would love to bring Dalton in as a reliable backup, the former second-round pick likely still has a chance to start for a team in the NFL.
Now that Brady has announced he won’t be returning to New England, joining the Pats would be a great opportunity for Dalton. He could also go compete with Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job in Chicago.
With the Buccaneers pursuing Tom Brady, among other quarterbacks, Winston’s time in Tampa Bay seems to be concluding. While not many doubt the former first-overall pick’s talent, his decision-making needs to improve in order to remain a starter in the NFL.
Odds on Winston’s Team for Game 1 of 2020 NFL Regular Season
|Los Angeles Chargers||+300|
|New England Patriots||+600|
|New Orleans Saints||+1400|
With Rivers no longer a Charger, Winston’s best chance of earning a starting job is likely battling it out Tyrod Taylor in LA.
After holding out for the first three weeks of the 2019 season, Melvin Gordon is now set to hit the open market.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+250|
While there is no shortage of running back-needy teams, the recent trend of negative results coming from paying big money for a back may harm Gordon’s market.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.