Analysts speculate odds of Tom Brady returning to Patriots

According to several respected NFL experts and insiders, the New England Patriots are a close third in the race to sign Tom Brady this spring.

The dominant storyline this spring in the NFL will be where Tom Brady ends up signing. Although the six-time Super Bowl champion has spent his entire 20-year career with the team that drafted him back in 2000 — the New England Patriots — Brady is expected to field offers from as many as 12 different teams next month, if not more.

Even those who believe Brady declined last season would have a difficult time trying to suggest he’s not the crown jewel and biggest prize of free agency this March.

Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, and Teddy Bridgewater are some of the other big QB names on the unrestricted free agent market, but none of them have the winning pedigree that Brady can claim.

So where will he sign? That’s the million-dollar question — or more accurately, the multi-million-dollar question. It’s been suggested that Brady could command a deal in total value that approaches $100 million if he chooses to sign with a team that has the cap space to give it to him.

Some of those teams include the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers, both of whom have been reportedly linked to Brady for months now. Numerous rumors have confirmed their interest, with the Raiders apparently ready to move on from Derek Carr and the Chargers having already parted ways with Rivers.

But according to some analysts and experts with their thumb on the pulse of the situation, the favorite right now to land Brady might not be either AFC West club.

CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley released a recent report that outlined how two of ESPN’s most prominent football insiders — Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter — seem to believe that the Tennessee Titans have emerged as the clear front-runner to land Brady next month.

The reasons why the Titans would be attractive to Brady are obvious. They most recently appeared in the AFC Championship Game, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs after Patrick Mahomes led one of three straight playoff comebacks en route to winning a championship in 2019. Clearly, the pieces are there for the Titans to be successful once again in 2020.

For starters, Tennessee has one of the best offensive lines and running backs in the league. Derrick Henry, the 2019 rushing champion, is a free agent himself, but it’s hard to believe the team would let him walk after the kind of season he just had. Tennessee also has exciting young talents at wide receiver and tight end, and they have a terrific defense littered with big-time players — several of which are former Pats (Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler, for example).

Most importantly, the Titans are coached by former Patriot Mike Vrabel, who was a linebacker and occasional red zone weapon for Brady during the early days of the New England dynasty. Vrabel and Brady are still quite friendly, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two team up in Nashville.

Darlington and Schefter go on to suggest that the Raiders are the second-most likely team to sign Brady this spring, based primarily off of how much money they could throw at him in a new contract. The Raiders also have a resurgent defense and talented players on offense, like second-year running back Josh Jacobs and a solid offensive line.

Brady and head coach Jon Gruden don’t necessarily share the same warm and fuzzy feelings that TB12 does with Vrabel — after all, it was Gruden’s Raiders who Brady and Adam Vinatieri slew in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game years ago. But it’s hard not to think Gruden would jump at the opportunity to upgrade at QB, going from Derek Carr to Brady in a heartbeat.

The Raiders also offer an attractive opportunity in that they will be playing their first season in Sin City, in a brand new stadium in front of brand new fans. Brady might appreciate the opportunity to be a part of that kind of history, and he knows he’d be a major draw in a city where the lights, glitz, and entertainment never stop.

As it relates to Patriots Nation, Darlington and Schefter penciled in New England as the third-most likely team to sign Brady to a new contract in March. It’s worth noting that these experts said the Patriots were “somewhere pretty close” behind the Titans and the Raiders, though they did admit that they were definitely “behind” both clubs in the race to ink Brady to a deal.

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Of course, all of this is still just rumors and speculation at this point. We should get a much clearer idea of what Brady himself is looking for in his next team as the calendar flips to March — which is just around the corner.

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