What if Tom Brady never left the New England Patriots?

How different would the direction of the franchise be if Tom Brady never left the team after 2019?
Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Let's play a game and ask ourselves; "what if Tom Brady never left the New England Patriots?" How much different would the franchise look if that was the case? The writing seemed to be on the wall, as Brady was a free agent at the end of the 2019 NFL season. That was also one of the more interesting seasons for Brady during his Patriots' career.

The team raced out to an 8-0 start but ended up finishing just 4-5 over their last nine games, including the playoffs. The nail in the coffin was the devastating Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans. One of the biggest issues for the team that year was their overall lack of playmakers on offense. Brady seemed to do what he could with what he had, but it was clear that the offense was missing that extra gear.

After the season concluded, speculation began about Tom Brady leaving the team, but I'm not sure many people really took it seriously. Well, he ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I think we all know what's happened since then. However, I do think it's worth talking about what could have happened if Tom Brady never left the Patriots and played another three years with the team.

Would the team have been able to scrape together another Super Bowl season? Well, let's just say that the Patriots' roster largely stays exactly the same from 2020-2022. Does inserting Tom Brady make a difference? In 2020, the Patriots weny 7-9 with Cam Newton as their primary starting QB, and it was a disaster. The Pats had the 27th ranked scoring offense, and the leading players on offense included Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, James White, Damien Harris, and Sony Michel.

Honestly, I can't see 2020 going much better than 2019. In fact, I bet the Patriots do win a ton of games in 2020 with Tom Brady, but I bet their lack of a dynamic offense ends up coming back to bite them late in the season, much like 2019 did. In 2021, however, I think things could be different for them with Tom Brady.

The Patriots went 10-7 with a rookie Mac Jones and had the sixth-best scoring offense in the NFL along with the second-best scoring defense. Contributors on offense included Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, Damien Harris, and Rhamondre Stevenson. Most everything seemed to work for the team in 2021, and I bet if Brady was in the mix and not Mac Jones, the 2021 Patriots are legitimate Super Bowl contenders again.

They got trounced in the Wild Card round by the Buffalo Bills, and I think if Brady was the Patriots' starter in 2021, the team may have won another game or two and might not have been playing in the Wild Card round. The 2022 season, however, could look a lot like 2019 and what I think 2020 would have looked like. If Josh McDaniels still leaves the team for the Raiders and Matt Patricia still takes over as the main-man on offense, I think we'd again see an offense that can score points but fails to do much else.

The lack of a true playmaker and shoddy play-calling is something that probably severely hurts the Patriots late in the season. The team finished with double-digit wins routinely with Tom Brady under center, so I don't think they don't win games, but the season likely ends in the WC round. And then, another discussion to have is what the team would have done with their QB position if Brady still retires at the end of the 2022 season.

Would the Patriots have chased a veteran this offseason like Carson Wentz, Jacoby Brissett, or Teddy Bridgewater? Would they have made a move in the 2023 NFL Draft to get someone like CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, or Will Levis? So many different ways this could have gone if Tom Brady would never have left the team. It's fun to think about, at least.