MIAMI – Legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who said earlier this week that he was leaving the New England Patriots after 20 dominating seasons, has signed a multi-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Florida franchise announced on Friday.
“The G.O.A.T. is coming to Tampa,” senior Buccaneers writer Scott Smith wrote on the team’s website, referring to the opinion of many American football players, commentators and fans that Brady is the greatest of all time.
It had been widely reported that Brady, who became a free agent for the first time in his career on Wednesday, was heading to the Buccaneers.
But that news was not official until Friday morning.
Although the contract terms were not specified on the Buccaneers’ website, media reports said Brady has signed a two-year, $50 million deal that also includes an additional $9 million in potential incentives.
Brady posted a photo of himself with his new contract on Instagram on Friday morning.
“Excited, humble and hungry … if there is one thing I have learned about football, it’s that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that … you earn the trust and respect of those around (you) through your commitment every single day,” he wrote.
The 42-year-old Brady led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles (2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, 2019), in the process setting the record for championships won by a single player at any position.
He also was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player a record four times during his tenure with that franchise based in Foxborough, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
Brady won three NFL Most Valuable Player Awards and played in a total of 41 playoff games and nine Super Bowls with the Patriots.
One of his three losses in the championship game came against the New York Giants in 2008, when New England nearly became only the second team in NFL history (after the 1972-1973 Miami Dolphins) to go undefeated throughout the entire regular season and playoffs.
Pundits had speculated in recent weeks where Brady would suit up next season, given that the quarterback has said he plans to continue playing until age 45 and that he and the Patriots did not agree on a contract extension.
It had been expected that Brady’s next team would be one with a talented group of wide receivers, which the Patriots lacked last season.
The Buccaneers fit that bill with two young standout wide receivers – 26-year-old Mike Evans and 24-year-old Chris Godwin – who are considered among the best in the game.
The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Evans, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl (the NFL’s all-star game) three of the past four seasons, is one of just two wide receivers in league history (Randy Moss) to begin their careers with six consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving.
The speedy and explosive Godwin, for his part, was sixth in the NFL last season in yards gained after the catch (577) and earned his first Pro Bowl selection.
The Buccaneers’ pass protection was less stellar last season than their receiving corps, but the team has available salary cap space that they might use to bolster their offensive line.
Brady may also have been drawn to Tampa Bay because of head coach Bruce Arians, who is known throughout the league for an ultra-aggressive offensive approach summed up in the phrase “no risk it, no biscuit.”
Arians, however, grew frustrated with the mistakes committed by the team’s quarterback in 2019, Jameis Winston, who became the first QB in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a single season.
Brady, by contrast, threw for 24 touchdowns and just eight interceptions last season.
The Buccaneers’ general manager, Jason Licht, also served in the past in different roles with the Patriots, as a college scout, assistant director of player personnel and director of player personnel.
In Smith’s article, Licht explained why the Buccaneers signed Brady despite his being the second-oldest player in the NFL (after 47-year-old free-agent kicker Adam Vinatieri).
“Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his teammates,” Licht said. “I’ve known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago (with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft) and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has.”
Brady, who became the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl when he led the Patriots to a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3, 2019, at age 41, will be playing under a head coach other than Bill Belichick for the first time in his NFL career.
Those two men, however, will remain inextricably linked in the minds of NFL fans, having formed arguably the most successful duo in the sport’s history.