If Brady chooses to leave the Patriots this offseason as a free agent, Peter King of NBC Sports is predicting that three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton — currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals — will be traded to New England to replace Brady.
I’ll preface this by saying none of this logic matters if Bill Belichick has already decided he wants to start a new era that doesn’t include a 43-year-old quarterback who makes a lot of money. Belichick might want to begin anew with a quarterback he feels is good and who costs significantly less—someone like 32-year-old Andy Dalton; the Patriots would probably have to pay a third or fourth-round pick for Dalton, who has a year left on his contract and no future in Cincinnati. (The Patriots have two thirds and two fourths, including a likely third-round compensatory pick.) If Belichick makes up his mind that it’s time to move on from Brady, then my argument is moot. Dalton, by the way, would be my pick to start in New England next year if Brady goes. Belichick would love Dalton. He’s a quiet, intense, lunchpail Texan who makes no excuses. And Dalton would embrace the Patriot ethos.
Why Dalton Would Be Easy to Acquire
The Bengals are in a clear rebuild mode. They’re coming off of a 2-14 campaign and hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Most assume that the Bengals will draft quarterback Joe Burrow with the top overall pick.
That means there is very little reason to keep Dalton around when the Bengals could still fetch something in return for the veteran quarterback. The 32-year-old still has one year left on his deal at $17.5 million.
Considering the Patriots would likely only have to give up a third or fourth-round draft choice for the veteran quarterback, it’s probably a worth risk taking. Dalton does have experience as a starting quarterback, previously leading the Bengals to four consecutive postseason appearances.
Titans ‘Favored’ To Sign Brady
This is going to be the most interesting question of the offseason. … Jeff Darlington is a lot more connected to that particular situation than I think a lot of people realize. And in talking with him yesterday — and my eyes were opened to this. I mean I always thought this was possible but I got even more of a hint that it’s more possible. Jeff Darlington basically … I mean, handicapped the Titans as the favorite right now. Which I was like, ‘Whoa. OK. I knew that Tennessee was an option,’ but he made it out to be more of an option than I realized it to be.
And in his mind, to rank the teams right now, would be Tennessee, Las Vegas, and New England.
This is an interesting turn of events, but it’s worth warning that this is one reporter’s opinion. This isn’t based on anything Brady has personally said himself.
With the Patriots and Brady due to negotiate in the next couple of weeks and free agency due to begin on March 18, we should have a clear indication of where Brady is leaning towards before the start of free agency.