As it turns out, not re-signing Tom Brady was the worst off-season decision in NFL history. Mike Ditka no longer owns the dubious honor; it now belongs to the greatest coach in history, Bill Belichick.
Not re-signing Brady is worse than Ditka sending eight draft picks to Washington so he could pick Ricky Williams fifth in the 1999 NFL draft. At least Williams rushed for 3,000 yards in three seasons, and then they traded him for two first-round picks. The Patriots received nothing but a headache.
When Brady snubbed the New England Patriots in his retirement statement, it became clear that the relationship was worse than most people imagined. He sent them a message, and it was not friendly. It is another sign that the blunder may haunt the team forever.
The worst fallout from not wanting Brady may be yet to come if he were to distance himself further from the team. As of now, he will not be back to sign a ceremonial contract, answer questions, take photos, and stroll down memory lane. Brady is still hurt, and he is known to hold a grudge forever. Fortunately, his resentment is not with the fans.
Fans and the team lost an opportunity to go to more Super Bowls during Brady’s final years in New England. He also didn’t have a chance to retire as a Patriot, as he wished. Most importantly, it took away the aspiration’s fans had awoken with every day for 20 years. This fairy tale was not supposed to end this way, and it did not have to.
Not Re-signing Tom Brady Was a Mistake by the Patriots
Brady not only won the Super Bowl right away with a new team, but he was the Super Bowl MVP. Meanwhile, the Patriots went 7-9. This season, he continued to play at an MVP level while leading the league in passing yards and touchdown passes. Brady still throws lasers into tight coverage, especially when it matters most. Yet, Belichick did not want him, even at a significant discount. That is tough to explain to fans.
It is a public relations nightmare when you anger a large portion of your fan base. Many Pats fans started watching and rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well. Most famously is Jim Murray of 98.5 The Sports Hub, who has a large audience that agrees with him. Another fan, “Jake in Boston,” even rented a billboard outside the stadium to express frustration.
The public relations nightmare is worse now that Brady has snubbed the Patriots and their fans in his retirement statement. Many fans are angry and confused. They’re asking, “how could Brady do such a thing?” But the real question is, why? The answer is that Brady is furious with Belichick for pushing him out the door and it was about him, not the fans.
Pats fans had to watch Brady dominate with another team for two years, often in primetime. Now, Brady has more rings than the Patriots do, and they will have to share his legacy with the Bucs. It is another slap in the face stemming from the worst off-season decision in NFL history.
Re-signing Brady Would Have Been Better Financially
The Patriots had the greatest quarterback in history at a discount, and they let him walk away for nothing in return. They were doing Brady a favor by allowing him to choose where he went instead of using the franchise tag or trading him. However, it is still a massive loss of assets when you consider the trade value of an elite quarterback. They were better off financially by resigning him.
Another problem with the decision is that it cost the team the ability to attract free agents at a discount. Players wanted to play with Brady because they knew they had a chance to win the Super Bowl every year. The latest example is Odell Beckham, who says he would have come to New England “if this (were) three years ago.” Now, the team has to overpay players to attract them. That extra money alone could have paid for itself in Brady’s modest contract.
He wasn’t asking for a top-of-the-market contract; he wanted two years at $50 million, and Belichick said no. Instead, he offered a one-year contract worth about $15 million and laced with incentives. So ultimately, the worst off-season decision in NFL history was avoidable without breaking the bank.
Not Having a Succession Plan
What gets lost in the Brady discussion is the worst part of the decision, not having a succession plan. It was negligent not to have the next guy in place, which is very uncharacteristic.
Obviously, it would have been best to draft a quarterback and have him sit and learn from Brady. It is how other great teams in history handled their transitions at quarterback. The San Fransisco 49ers transitioned seamlessly from Joe Montana to Steve Young. Then the Green Bay Packers transitioned from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. It is unbelievable that the greatest coach ever would trade Brady without a successor.
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