What have you done for me lately? That is the latest theme in the off-season in the NFL for some very big name quarterbacks. 2020 might see the end of eras for players who have been a staple for their individual franchises, and in the league itself. Drew Brees, Philip Rivers,Tom Brady, and Cam Newton. Legends of the sport of football, 4 likely NFL Hall of Fame candidates. Wednesday March 18th, 2020 at 4pm ET. will mark the official start of the 2020 NFL Free-Agency period. Here are a few details and rumors that have been circulating, a full month before any moves can be made official.
Drew Brees was leaning towards either retirement or another season with the New Orleans Saints. Brees has been an elite quarterback his entire career. Since joining the Saints, Brees has led all NFL quarterbacks in touchdowns, passing yards, and 300-yard games. Brees holds NFL records for career pass completions, career completion percentage, career passing yards, and career touchdown passes. At 41, Brees weighed the options of coming back and taking another crack at winning a Super Bowl, or hanging up his cleats for good. The 2019 season was an off one for Brees, suffering an injury at the beginning of the season. He came back to play 11 games, and lead the Saints into the playoffs where they were easily defeated at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings 26-20, in overtime of the NFC Wild Card game. While Brees was injured, the Saints got very good production out of his replacement, Teddy Bridgewater, starting the rumblings that maybe it was time for New Orleans and Brees to part ways. Brees completed the regular season with just under 3000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Brees has since announced that he will be returning for his 20th season in the NFL, and will be the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.
Philip Rivers will be entering his 17th season in the NFL and will not be coming back next season to the Los Angeles Chargers. The 38-year old Rivers will become a free agent. 8-times selected to the Pro Bowl, a passer rating of 98.1%, Rivers led the Chargers to the playoffs 6 times, and obviously feels he has more to offer, as he has not announced any plans to retire, nor should he.
Rivers brings playoff experience, incredible vision, and a cannon for an arm. These are all the qualities that a young, unproven team with offensive talent, would definitely seek the services of Rivers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the most interest in Rivers rumor has it, as they seek to bridge the gap between their present and their future. Current QB Jameis Winston has had 5 seasons of inconsistency, where he played brilliantly, and threw as many TD’s as INT’s. Rivers can come into games when Winston is struggling or is injured, and do it seamlessly. In fact, the possibility could arise that Winston and Rivers could be competing for the starting job, if Rivers signs with the Bucs.
Considered by many to be the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, Tom Brady’s resume is long and decorated. Brady will be entering his 20th season, all with the New England Patriots, and all have been under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick. Brady will be 43 years old before the 2020 season begins. Belichick and Brady have been synonymous with winning and excellence over their careers together. Belichick’s control, particularly his systems and schemes, worked with any parts that were trotted out on the field for Brady to target. From big names like Randy Moss, and Rob Gronkowski, to Julian Edelman, Brady worked with what he had, and by all accounts, did an amazing job.
Brady and the Patriots were one and done in the 2019 playoffs, and have not accomplished that feat since 2010. Brady has been quite adamant about his desire to play well into his 40’s. What have you done for us lately? A question asked by the organization, and fans. Unfortunately for the greatest, what he has done for New England lately, was not good enough. Never before now has there been speculation over what Brady would do the next season. Season after season, for 20 years, it was automatic to see the #12 reporting for camp. Moving to another locker room after 20 seasons would not exactly be groundbreaking, as Brady would be following in some big footsteps.
So where could TB12 end up next season? Who are his suitors? 5 teams are reportedly in the hunt for Brady’s services; the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and the Miami Dolphins, with the Raiders and Chargers believed to have the best chance.
The Chargers present Brady with an opportunity to play in his native state of California. Head coach Anthony Lynn, is the general of a relatively young, but decent offense. Brady would be the perfect calm to the storm, bringing a championship pedigree and professionalism to the youthful roster. At this point in his career, does Brady want to join a contender or be part of a youth movement in Los Angeles?
Working with Head Coach Jon Gruden of the Raiders would be interesting. Gruden has a brilliant football mind, and having a tool like Brady to fire at all of those offensive weapons on the Raiders, could lead to championship aspirations.
Oh by the way, this is what any team interested in Brady would be getting; a 6-time Super Bowl champion, 3-time NFL MVP, 14-time Pro Bowl appearances, who holds the record for most division titles (16), and the only quarterback to ever reach 200 regular season wins. Not bad eh?
The Patriots have the best chance at securing Brady for a 20th season. Familiarity and loyalty go a long way in sports. Brady has had a rocky relationship with coach Belichick in recent years, mostly over Belichick drafting Jimmy Garoppolo, seen as Brady’s successor. The one thing that heals all wounds in sports, is winning. Although the team failed to advance past the wild card round of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, they still most likely will be the favorites in the extremely weak AFC East division next season. As usual, Brady and Belichick made something out of nothing with the unknown cast of characters, and if he returns to the team, they will be expected to work their magic again this season. Add to the fact that owner Rober Kraft has publicly declared his intentions on re-signing Brady, whom he often refers to as a son, and you have the likelihood of Brady following in the footsteps of Drew Brees, and returning to the only team he’s played for, the Patriots.
Cam Newton is only 30 years old, and 6’5”, 245lbs, he should have a lot of football life left in him. Injuries, however, have plagued the star QB of the Carolina Panthers. Newton has absorbed an enormous amount of physical punishment both from his rugged running style (refusing to slide, taking monster hits), and a weak offensive line that failed repeatedly to protect him.
Newton is a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, 2015 NFL MVP, 2011 Rookie of the Year, a 2015 Super Bowl appearance (albeit in a loss), and has passed for over 28,000 yards over the course of his career. Who would take on Cam and his injury-riddled body?
The Los Angeles Chargers are believed to have their sights set on Newton, as he will be a free-agent officially on March 18th at 4pm ET. The Chargers have already confirmed that Philip Rivers will not be coming back in 2020, and the likelihood of signing Tom Brady away from the Patriots is highly unlikely. Newton, if he can get protection, might be able to stay healthy long enough to bring the Chargers back to playoff contention.