Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is officially official. The t's are crossed and the i's dotted. He's hungry and humble for a new beginning. Laser-focused on making his second act look like his first.
Adam Schefter reports the two sides have agreed to a two-year deal, meaning Brady is under contract through age 44. The yet-to-be-determined-million dollar question is how much remains in his tank. For every pundit who believes there were obvious signs of decline, there's one who puts the blame on inferior weaponry and believes the Bucs' elite wide receiving unit will now be fully maximized.
Another question? Will Brady, who has expressed desire to play longer than the knight was stuck in that room in Indiana Jones, actually play past 45? Forty-six? Will we be in the same spot two years from now, with poor Jeff Darlington forgoing both sleep and personal hygiene to read every tea leaf about the GOAT's future whereabouts?
Part of that, it would seem, will be dependent in how much success Brady has over the next two years. If he doesn't have it anymore and the Bucs stumble to lackluster campaigns, it's tough to see him ignoring obvious handwriting on the wall. If he does, somehow, manage to win a Super Bowl, that would figure to be the pièce de résistance of his career which would allow him to ride off into the sunset confident he wrote a chapter of his legacy without Bill Belichick as a character.
If he gets perilously close but short of the promised land, it's easy to see him being driven by a competitive spirit rarely seen by man. And if he's capable of that, Tampa Bay would still be interested in having him back, likely on a one-year deal because paying someone through their age 46 season seems insane even to type.
Yet, if he's still playing at a high level, there will be a bidding war. Competent NFL quarterbacking is a rare commodity. That's not going to change over the next 24 months. Brady's move to warmer weather is instructive. By going to the NFC South, he ensures at least 12 of his 16 games will be played in domes or warm temperatures.
As the saying goes, once you go heat you never retreat. If there's to be a third team in Brady's future, my money is on one that can afford him a favorable climate. Think New Orleans, who may need to replace Drew Brees. Or Miami, where he has a connection to ownership and an uncertain quarterback future if this draft doesn't work out. Or Las Vegas.
The mind wanders. Tom vs. Time is among the NFL's greatest rivalries. No one involved seems ready to give it up.