Tom Brady Nearly Landed With Buccaneers’ Rival: Report

Tom Brady

Getty Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady won't face sanctions for previous talks with the Miami Dolphins.

The New Orleans Saints have been Tom Brady’s nemesis since the legend joined the NFC South, but the star quarterback nearly wore black and gold prior to signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Brady would have been the Saints quarterback if Drew Brees had retired during the 2020 offseason.

“I have to take you back to a time when Tom Brady had decided that he was leaving the New England Patriots, and the Tampa Bay Bucs were absolutely at the top of his list,” Darlington explained during the August 3, 2022 edition of the “ESPN Daily” podcast. “But so too were another team and that was the New Orleans Saints coached by Sean Payton. I don’t think people give it credit enough how close Tom Brady was to playing with Sean Payton in New Orleans.

“Had Drew Brees ended up as the ‘Monday Night Football’ analyst at our network, Tom Brady would have ended up with the Saints. Instead, Drew Brees decides to return during, by the way, what was an offseason of a lot of questions with Drew Brees and whether he was ultimately [retiring]. At one point, [Brees] walked into Sean Payton’s office and said, ‘I’m done. I’m retired.’ So, it was so close to Tom Brady ending up with the Saints and Sean Payton. Their relationship was established [during the 2020 offseason].”

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The Dolphins Wanted to Pair Brady With Payton

Ultimately, Brees decided to return for a final season in 2020, and Brady opted to sign with the Buccaneers. It would later be Brady who helped the Bucs eliminate the Saints during the postseason in what would be Brees’ final NFL game.

The league office once again linked Brady to Sean Payton after releasing the findings from their investigation into the Dolphins tampering saga. The NFL essentially confirmed the rumors that the Dolphins were attempting to pair Brady and Payton together, revealing that Miami made impermissible contact with both parties while they were under contract with their respective teams.

“The Dolphins again had impermissible communications with both Mr. Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” the NFL announced in an August 3 press release. “Those discussions began no later than early December 2021 and focused on Mr. Brady becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins. Both Mr. Ross and Beal were active participants in these discussions.”

Brady Made Pitch to Saints Players About Joining NOLA in 2020: Report

Darlington’s report coincides with what other NFL insiders have detailed about Brady’s interest in joining the Saints. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported back in 2020 that Brady made his pitch to Saints players about potentially becoming the next New Orleans QB1. Brees’ return to New Orleans took this possibility off the table for Brady.

“Brady made no secret of the fact that if Brees was retiring and heading to the TV booth, Brady would like to replace him,” Rapoport wrote on September 13, 2020. “Brady mentioned this, sources say, to a few Saints players, knowing that word would get back. New Orleans was into it, as well, with Brady seen by head coach Sean Payton as the perfect replacement for Brees.

“However, when Brees announced he was not done yet, the Brady-to-New-Orleans move died. Meanwhile, it appears the Patriots would not have had an issue with Brady and New Orleans talking, as NBCSports Boston reported the Patriots wouldn’t file tampering charges if a team spoke with Brady before his contract was up. They wanted him to know his market.”

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