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Franchise rebirth: Brady reportedly decides to sign with Tampa Bay

Tom Brady

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

No sooner had the news of Tom Brady’s departure from the New England Patriots dropped when another bombshell regarding the greatest quarterback in NFL history hit the mainland.

Raise your hand if you ever imagined Brady playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Multiple sources reported Tuesday that Brady and the Bucs were on the verge of a deal. And you’d have to admit seeing him in orange is going to take some time getting used to.

“I’m instantly thinking, ‘We’re gonna be a contender, we’re gonna be a playoff contender,'” Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett told ESPN. “All I want to do is play winning football again and try to get a championship, so that’s a step in the right direction.”

It’s not like this hasn’t happened before in league history. Joe Montana played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Joe Namath for the Los Angeles Rams, John Unitas for the San Diego Chargers and Brett Favre for the New York Jets.

Life sometimes gets in the way of fairytale finishes.

While there has been no news yet about contract terms, you can bet Brady is getting exactly what he wants – multiple years and at least $30 million annually. That will take Brady, who will be 43 before the 2020 season begins, to the precipice of his expressed goal of playing until he was 45.

But remember something: Brady would be the first ever to start a season at QB at that age 43 and only Vinny Testaverde, Steve DeBerg and Warren Moon have ever played in a game when that old. Testaverde is the only QB 43 or older to start and win or start and throw a touchdown.

Yep, he’s an expensive gamble.

Yet, it’s clear the Bucs needed a new QB. As exciting as Jameis Winston could be, he was also one of the least dependable signal callers in the league, a veritable interception machine.

Winston was the first overall selection of  the 2015 NFL draft. But his 88 interceptions and 111 turnovers are the most by any player in the league since 2015. He threw 30 interceptions in 2019, the most for any QB in 31 years. That countered the fact that Winston led the league with 5,109 passing yards.

Arians is considered a QB guru and he was asked at the NFL scouting combine if there was one player he’d like to pursue if he was available.

“Tom Brady,” Arians said.

Brady has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in a season. He’s had nine or fewer in seven of the past 10 seasons. Any questions?

Tom Brady

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Last season, Brady’s quarterback rating was 88.0 percent, the lowest since 2013. But he seemed frustrated at times with the lack of weapons provided to by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. He was ranked 26th in average pass distance, a measure illustrating New England’s conservative approach offensively.

That’s won’t be a problem in Tampa. The Bucs have two 1,100-yard Pro Bowl receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. They also have talented tight ends O.J. Howard and Cam Brate and a great young halfback in Ronald Jones.

If Brady proves he’s still got it, he’s likely to put on a great show with those five targets at his disposal. And Tampa should make a huge leap from its 7-9 season in 2019.

How is Brady’s arrival certain to change Tampa’s outlook?  Tampa has finished in the bottom half of the NFC South in 10 of the past 12 years and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007.

According to ESPN, Brady could lose his next 283 starts and still have a better career record than the Bucs franchise. The Bucs have not won a playoff game since winning their only Super Bowl in 2003.

But now it’s all smiles. The GOAT has arrived.