Tom Brady announced on St. Patrick’s Day that he will move on from the New England Patriots, ending what has arguably been the most successful marriage in the history of professional sports. The 42-year-old QB will reportedly sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After Brady was drafted 199th overall in the 2000 draft and took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in his second season, he combined with head coach Bill Belichick to set a new standard for success. They’ve since teamed up for six Super Bowl titles, nine SB appearances, and a ridiculous 16 AFC East titles.
The Bucs were the favorite to sign Brady since they’ve been most public about their efforts to bring in the veteran star. According to data from FanDuel Sportsbook, approximately 48% of bets and 24% of betting handle came in on Brady to sign with Tampa before the market was pulled on Tuesday.
Here is a breakdown of how Brady’s decision to sign with the Bucs impacts the NFL Futures market.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa head coach Bruce Arians is an offensive genius with a history of success running offenses with the Colts, Cardinals, and a Bucs team that struggled to find consistency last year under Jameis Winston. While Winston is turnover prone, Brady has thrown a pick on just 1.8% of his career passes with a record TD:INT ratio of 28:2 in 2016.
The winning pedigree isn’t necessarily there in Tampa, but Brady will be working with some of the best young receivers in the game including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and TE O.J. Howard. Working with those weapons should give Brady a jolt at this stage in his career, especially with plenty of pundits still doubting the veteran.
His presence caused the Bucs win total to move up from 8 to 9 at DraftKings Sportsbook and their Super Bowl odds to drift up from +2300 to +2000 overnight (after opening +5000 in February). The Saints (-110) remain favored to win a second straight NFC South title. The Bucs do have a good shot at 9 or 10 wins given their schedule. They’ll host the Chargers and Rams on east coast time, have winnable division games against the Falcons and Panthers, and have easier non-division games at the Lions and Giants.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have squashed rumors that they were interested in Teddy Bridgewater, who is now expected to sign with the Carolina Panthers. Andy Dalton is a potential option to replace Brady with the Bengals expected to draft Joe Burrow No. 1 and cut or trade Dalton to avoid a $17.7M cap hit. At 32 years old, Dalton is an upgrade over Brady in terms of athleticism, although we would have to see how he responds to the demands of a new coaching staff.
There are other possibilities including Nick Foles and Cam Newton, who has been granted permission to seek a trade following the Bridgewater news. The Patriots could also swap in Jameis Winston, but Belichick’s value on ball security might give him serious pause when considering a QB who tossed a league-high 30 picks last year.
In any case, the Patriots are now assigned a 9.5-game win total in what is still a weak division. While they’ll have four winnable games against Jets and Dolphins teams that Belichick has dominated over the past two decades, their home games against the Broncos, Raiders, and Cardinals are the only other “easy” matchups. The Pats have a brutal schedule next season that includes home games against the 49ers and Ravens, plus road games at the Chiefs, Texans, Rams, Chargers, and Seahawks. Throw in two matchups against a surging Bills team, and the most exploitable bet in this division seems to be on Buffalo (+175) to win the AFC East.
If the Pats don’t win their division, it’s hard to envision them making another deep postseason run. New England lost key defensive pieces already in Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, and whichever QB replaces Brady will likely struggle to make use of a weak receiving corps.
Perhaps the Patriots will re-fashion their offense around a mobile QB in Newton or even Taysom Hill. You can’t count out this coaching staff or organization, but an initial glance at the schedule indicates the Pats could fail to hit 10 wins for the first time since 2002.
Los Angeles Chargers
By missing out on the Brady sweepstakes, the Chargers are likely relegated back to irrelevancy. Their 7.5-win total is tough to gauge given we still don’t know what direction they will take in replacing Philip Rivers under center. This team has plenty of talent and came up almost comically short in several games last season to finish at 5-11. They have a relatively easy schedule next year with non-division games against the Bengals, Jaguars, and Panthers, so perhaps they get back to a winning season behind a strong defense and new-look QB.
AFC East Implications
The Patriots (+800) are initially still listed ahead of the Buffalo Bills (+1300), Indianapolis Colts (+1300), and Tennessee Titans (+1400) in terms of their odds to win the AFC title. The Chiefs (+300) and Ravens (+400) are clearly the favorites.
New England has won the AFC East every year since 2009 and in 17 of 20 years with Brady. The Bills (+175) are the likeliest candidate to wrest away the divisional crown this season. The Patriots (-110) are still favored on most books, but money should come in on Buffalo after the Bills traded for Stefon Diggs to bolster a weak offense that could complement one of the top five defenses in the NFL. The New York Jets (+750) and Miami Dolphins (+900) round out the odds as longshots to surpass either of those established playoff teams.