The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have Drew Brees to thank for their recent Super Bowl run culminating in making history at Raymond James Stadium. Multiple reports indicate the Saints were on Tom Brady’s shortlist of teams he had in free agency and would have strongly considered heading to New Orleans if Brees retired during the last offseason. ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted on The Rich Eisen Show that there was “a chance” Brady would be wearing a Saints uniform if Brees retired.
“Lo and behold, [Brees] came back in March. And by the way, if he hadn’t come back, I really believe that there’s a chance that Tom Brady would’ve been the Saints’ quarterback this year, and he would’ve been playing in New Orleans, not Tampa,” Schefter noted, per CBS Boston. “But that’s a different story.”
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Brady Was ‘on His Way to New Orleans’ When Brees Announced His Return for 2020
NFL Network’s Jane Slater relayed a similar anecdote during a recent interview on The Dan Patrick Show. Slater noted that Brady was “on his way to New Orleans” before Brees announced he was playing in 2020. It is unclear if Slater meant this as Brady was set to meet with the Saints, or if the quarterback would have signed with New Orleans had Brees retired. Either way, it shows just how close Brady was to playing for the Bucs’ NFC South rival.
“I can tell you, this is 1000 percent accurate, Tom Brady was on his way to New Orleans,” Slater noted. “So, of course, all of us can talk about the hypotheticals that would have applied to the Saints if Tom Brady had come over and him and Sean Payton had gotten together in the lab what they would have been capable of.”
Brady Reportedly Wanted to Replace Brees with the Saints
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported something similar ahead of the Buccaneers’ season opener against the Saints in September 2020. Rapoport noted that Brady was seen as the “perfect replacement” for Brees by Saints head coach Sean Payton.
“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 noted. “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.”
As the years pass, there are sure to be similar stories that arise from other teams about Brady’s free agency. The important part for the Buccaneers is that Brady signed on the dotted line. It is unclear what Brady would have done if Brees had retired, but no one is taking back last season’s Lombardi Trophy regardless of his hypothetical decision.