Not only does Tom Brady never get old, but neither do the stories of teams’ interest in him — in this case the Raiders.
Brady, fresh off a 31-14 loss to the Cowboys in Monday’s wild-card playoff game, is 45. He may decide to play another year and it may not be in Tampa Bay. And I have no doubt that the Raiders are interested.
But signing him now after not signing him in 2020 — he went on to win the Super Bowl that season — would be the most “Raiders” move in two decades-worth of illogical, badly timed gaffes by the franchise.
Brady, you remember, was interested in coming to the Raiders three years ago, but Jon Gruden ultimately decided that Brady’s recent game film didn’t warrant the two-year, $50 million contract he would get from the Buccaneers.
Fast forward three seasons and Derek Carr has taken the fall (fairly or unfairly, you can have fun with that one for the rest of your lives) for the Raiders’ 6-11 season. The Raiders need a quarterback and Brady is not only still playing, but he just set a record for NFL pass attempts in a season with 733.
The Buccaneers finished 8-9 on the season and won a pretty lame NFC South, and even Brady’s greatest supporters would have to agree he didn’t play very well the first half of the season. His 6.4 yards per attempt was his worst average in 20 years, and his 25 touchdown passes were the fifth-fewest of his career.
No one’s coming for Brady’s G.O.A.T. status and I am sure he has forgotten more about winning than the current Raiders players have ever known. That’s why if you’re the Raiders, you have to entertain the idea of bringing him in. Not to mention that if you’re Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, the Super Bowl rings that you won with the Patriots should be kept in a glass case under a Brady shrine.
But signing Brady doesn’t make sense.
(And no, the Tuck Rule isn’t one of the reasons. It was a fumble, and while the Patriots’ reign under Brady started with that botched call against the Raiders, it’s ancient history and has no bearing on this franchise trying to have their its winning season in 21 years.)
1. Move doesn’t jibe with Ziegler’s supposed thinking
In his only interview since the season ended, Ziegler told The Athletic, “We are trying to build a consistent winner and not just try and catch lightning in a bottle.” Signing a quarterback who will be 46 before next season starts is the very definition of lightning in a bottle. There is no long-term plan there. No finesse, all muscle.
Ziegler would have to elevate the roster as quickly as possible and try to not only make the playoffs but win in the playoffs next season. You would likely have to sign or trade for older players for more money than you would probably like to (hello, Chandler Jones). Younger players with potentially higher ceilings would either not be drafted or signed, or lose playing time to veterans as part of the sacrifice to win now.
Maybe it works. But on the decent chance that it doesn’t (points to the Bucs’ 8-9 record this regular season), the Raiders will have set themselves further back from building a team that can consistently contend for years.