Everyday I sit down and I start preparing for my show on Sportscastr, and I start skimming and reading through all the latest articles and rumors that are floating around about the New England Patriots. Lately, when I’m not reading about Tom Brady signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, LA Chargers, and now the San Francisco 49ers, I’m stuck reading about who the Patriots could possibly replace him with.
Some of the names that are floating around make a little bit of sense, but there are other names that just make me shake my head. But then it makes me sit back and ask, who really is a legitimate, comparable replacement for Tom Brady this season?
There have only been two reasonable names rumored to possibly replace Tom Brady. Teddy Bridgewater who will definitely want out of New Orleans after news broke that Drew Brees was returning for another season. The other and more improbable name that started floating around is Jimmy Garoppolo. I need to be honest, at this point I believe the Patriots chances of trading or signing for Jimmy Garopoolo is about as good as New England drafting Joe Burrow. It’s not impossible, but it’s highly improbable.
I have broken down the possible replacements into three categories:
Under acceptable replacements are the aforementioned Teddy Bridewater and Jimmy Garoppolo. I would also add Jameis Winston to the category. Winston is a long shot, because right now it looks like the only way he would be available to sign for the Patriots would be if the Buccaneers signed Tom Brady. Now there are stories out there that Tampa Bay would be an ideal situation for Brady, but Brady signing with Tampa would down to what is Brady’s ultimate motivation. If Brady just wants to compete and get a chance to win a Super Bowl, then Tampa Bay makes sense. They have a solid defense, good offensive line, solid running back, decent tight end, and of course Mike Evans. If Brady wants to compete, but is also looking for a high profile and continue building his TB12 brand, Tampa Bay is not the place for him.
I know that there are some questions around Bridgewater and Winston. Besides a five game stint this season while Brees was injured, it’s been a while since Bridgewater has been an everyday starter. But, he went 5-0, and has earned himself a spot where. I originally thought that the Carolina Panthers would have been a good place for Bridgewater, but with reports circulating that Panthers are sticking with Cam Newton, the Patriots make a lot of sense for the Patriots.
Winston has had some interception issues, but the Patriots system may better fit Winston’s erratic play, because the scheme is so tight, it can eliminate his “creativity”. McDaniels will make sure that Winston sticks to underneath and checkdown passes, and sparingly let the ball go. With the proper coaching and mentorship, Winston has the opportunity to become a very solid quarterback.
When I look at the long shots I have Marcus Mariota and Phillip Rivers in the category. Mariota sits higher on my list, and with a lot of people believing that he was not used right in Tennessee, maybe Mariota could bring something different to New England. I like Mariota because he’ll be cheap. Belichick could make an $8 million investment and if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. The Patriots are in no worst position. Remember this all based on Brady leaving the Patriots. The obvious answer is re-sign Tom Brady and none of this matters. Phillip Rivers is in decline, and there’s a better chance he doesn’t work out in New England than he does, but for a cheap price tag, it’s worth a shot.
Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and Blake Bortles are all firmly planted in my OH HELL NO category. You could try to convince me why one of the three guys would be a good pick up for the Patriots, and I will be perfectly honest with you right now, I will not be interested at all to hear your opinion on it. There is a 0% probability you can convince me this is the best move for the Patriots. I appreciate your feedback, but I would just you breathe.
All in all, when we look at all these names, outside of maybe Garoppolo, there is nobody that catches my attention to replace Brady. I think that as a Patriots fan, I also have to accept that nobody will ever really be able to replace Brady. You don’t just replace a six time Super Bowl champion and the greatest to ever do it. You have to adapt, perhaps we shouldn’t use the word “replacement” any more, and look at it more like the new chapter for the New England Patriots.
Losing Brady doesn’t mean that the Patriots can’t be competitive and successful, but it will never be what it was like without Brady. A part of me is terrified to see what the future of the Patriots will look like. Another part of me is actually a little excited to watch Belichick rebuild and re-tool the team. A lot of Patriots fans have become a little complacent, and it’s going to be interesting to go into a season with different expectations. Maybe for some of us who have been a little spoiled over the years, will finally appreciate what they had for the last twenty years.