Would the Patriots trade Tom Brady this offseason for the right deal?
Before you start to think of this as a ridiculous concept, please take a step back and put on your objectivity hat. Let’s start with this. Tom Brady is still playing at an elite level. He’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and many would argue that he’s the top player at his position. He’s a quarterback that any team would want to lead their team and he certainly would not be a player the Patriots would want to move. Having said all of that, we all know that the Patriots always put the team first and if there was a deal a team would be interested in making for Brady, this might be the year the Patriots would take a look.
Consider this: Brady has reached the elite company of all-time great Boston athletes. The Top Five on this list include Bill Russell, Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, and Brady. These are players who are not only in the upper echelon from a Boston sports perspective, but they are all-time great players in their respective sport. Each of these five players made significant impacts to the Boston sports scene. They also gave the fans in Boston a lot of great memories!
Having said all of that, during their respective careers, two of these players were discussed in trade talks after they had established themselves as elite players. The Indiana Pacers offered the Celtics a trade for Larry Bird which included Chuck Person and Herb Williams in 1988. The deal never happened, but it was discussed. Red Auerbach ultimately decided to keep the Celtics core in tact and go for one last title run. It didn’t pan out as the Celtics hoped as they didn’t reach the NBA Finals again in the Bird-era. In addition to Bird, Ted Williams was reportedly almost traded to the Yankees for Joe DiMaggio during his peak years.
Bird and Williams were in trade rumors and, perhaps, those trades were never that close to actually happening. However, in the 1970’s Bobby Orr was as big as any athlete in Boston’s history. Orr led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup titles and he changed the game of hockey. The Bruins let him walk to Chicago when they thought he was not worth the price. Repeat: The Boston Bruins let the most popular athlete in the history of Boston sports walk. It was the classic case of business over popularity. It happens in every sport.
Now to Brady. He’ll be 39 years old when the NFL season starts next year. We know he’s still playing at an elite level, but realistically how much longer is this going to last? Brady says he’s going to play 10 more years. The aging process says no. Who’s going to win between Tom Brady and the aging process? If you think Brady is going to play at this level into his 40’s, the odds are against him. Take a look at Brett Favre. At age 40, he threw for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdown and 7 interceptions. The following season? 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He lost it all in one year. Take a look at Peyton Manning. At the mid-season last year, he was again putting up historic numbers. How did he look at the mid-season this year? Look at the drop off from one season to the next. The same thing will likely happen to Brady. It’s just a matter of when. Will it be next year? Maybe not, but do you really think the Patriots think Brady is going to play at this level into his 40’s? No one else ever has. It’s not question about Brady’s greatness. Like Russell, Williams, Bird, and Orr it comes to an end for everyone.
Are the Patriots going to call teams this offseason to actively try to trade their star quarterback? Not likely. However, there are teams out there that are a QB away from being a legitimate contender for a Super Bowl. Houston, Buffalo, and Kansas City are just a few to mention in the AFC. There are teams that are desperate for winning immediately and what better way to do it than to bring in Tom Brady for a year or two? A team that would be interested in this would have to sacrifice a lot.
Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios:
If the Houston Texans offered the DeAndre Hopkins and a first round pick for Brady, would the Patriots make the trade? The Patriots would get a top-5 NFL receiver who is just 23 years old and a first rounder. The Texans would get the elite QB that they have needed to take the next step.
What if the Denver Broncos offered the Patriots Demaryius Thomas and a first round pick for Brady? Would Belichick and the team take a look at that deal?
Sooner or later, the Patriots may need to make a decision to move on from Brady. It’s unlikely that it’s this offseason. However, we all know that the Patriots are all about maximizing their assets. The reality is that their best asset is getting older. They’ll need to plan for the future and the long-term future probably doesn’t include Brady. Given that point, the Patriots are an elite team in the league and it would be highly unlikely that they would ultimately entertain a deal like this next year unless the offer was through the roof. With that said, the possibility of this increases year after year.
The Indiana Pacers offered the Boston Celtics a trade for Larry Bird when Bird was past his prime. The Celtics did not entertain the offer. They wanted Bird to retire as a Celtic and make one last playoff run. But, would Red Auerbach have moved Bird for the right deal?
If Tom Brady wants to play 10 more years, is Bill Belichick going to keep him around if he’s on the decline knowing that most quarterbacks lose it all very quickly? Obviously, a big factor will be Belichick’s confidence in Jimmy Garoppolo.
Has there ever been a 38 year old player with more value on the trade market than Tom Brady?
Peyton Manning was let loose to the Denver Broncos. Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets. Joe Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady will be 39 next year. The clock is ticking…