By Stephen Juza
May 1st, 2020
On March 17th, 2020, Tom Brady shocked the sports world by announcing he would be leaving the New England Patriots, the team he played his entire career for thus far. A few days later, he signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, replacing Jameis Winston as the team’s starting quarterback.
Brady leaves behind a legacy with the Patriots unmatched throughout NFL history: 20 seasons, six Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl MVP awards, five All-Pro nominations, second all-time in passing yards, and the list continues.
It is rare that a proven starting quarterback changes teams—even rarer for them to be former All-Pros like Brady. The most apt comparison may be Joe Montana, who was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs for the final two years of his career. This move paid dividends for both teams, as the 49ers dynasty continued under Steve Young for many more years, while the Chiefs made the AFC Championship game in 1992 for their best season since 1969.
Bringing in Brady brings instant championship aspirations for the Buccaneers. There is a steep hill to climb for the team as they try to dethrone the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South title. So what impact should the Buccaneers expect by adding Brady to the team? If history provides an answer, they should expect to be in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Looking at the top 20 most prolific quarterbacks to be signed or traded as the team’s starting quarterbacks, each new team averaged an improvement of three wins; four, if the quarterback was a former All-Pro. This hypothetically puts the Bucs at 11-5, firmly in place for a Wild Card bid, but maybe not enough to overcome the Saints for the divisional lead.
What should the Patriots expect? Statistically, while the QB’s new team improves, their former team typically takes a step back. When teams lost an All-Pro quarterback, they won about two fewer games the following year. This puts the Patriots in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 with the up-and-coming Buffalo Bills looking to take a step forward from their wild card berth in 2019.
Brady’s departure pushes the Patriots move into unknown territory. They currently only have one quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, on the roster who has thrown a total of four passes in his entire NFL career.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are hoping that Brady can be the missing piece that facilitates their return to the playoffs and further. However, their championship window is now tied to Brady, who is at the tail end of his career when most quarterbacks have already hung up their cleats.
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