I'm finally starting to believe it - Tom Brady is playing in the Bay. By all accounts, pen will meet paper and Brady will help usher in a new era (and new uniforms, thank goodness) of Tampa Bay Buccaneer football this fall. Most never thought this day would come, but barring a Josh McDaniels-esque change of heart, here we are. But how does this affect his dynasty outlook, and - more importantly - that of his new targets? Is the 43-year-old washed up, or ready for a resurgence with an improved cast?
The Patriots offense in 2019 was a shadow of years past. Brady finished with his lowest passing touchdown total in a decade (24) and his lowest yards per attempt in 15 years (6.6). His best statistical years are behind him, but we're talking about the GOAT and that still leaves a lot of room for decent production. It would be foolish to expect a return to the top of the passing charts, but equally foolish to assume the massive upgrade in pass catchers won't help him rebound from 2019. Julian Edelman to Mike Evans? Upgrade. Matt LaCosse to O.J. Howard? Upgrade. Mohamed Sanu to Chris Godwin? Big upgrade. The bottom line is this: Tom Brady hasn't had a full season with a cast this dynamic since he broke fantasy scoring with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Throw in Cameron Brate plus speedster Scotty Miller or a talented mid-round rookie and now you have the ideal situation for a quarterback that exploits matchups as well as any in NFL history. He's too old to be a major dynasty asset, but for a contending team in a Superflex league, I like the idea of taking a shot on Brady as your QB2. If you're rebuilding and still stuck with him, use this opportunity to squeeze out a little value in the trade market.
Speaking of weapons, what does this move do for Tampa's dynamic duo at wide receiver? Well, Godwin is an obvious fit as a versatile target who can win on the outside and in the slot. He excels in contested catches, but also found success after the catch in year one under Arians and was productive on a number of wide receiver screens, historically a staple of Brady-led offenses. Evans is harder to project. It's been more than a decade since Brady was tossing bombs to Moss, and it's fair to wonder if he'll throw even half as many deep balls as Jameis Winston. In 2019, Brady saw more decline in opportunity than ability. Expect plenty of target share for Evans and with Brady's anticipation, more of those should hit Evans in stride rather than the jump balls we saw so often with Winston. Don’t be surprised to see improved yards after catch numbers, something he has struggled with in the past. He’s no slouch in the intermediate passing game either, moving well enough for his size that the threat of the deep pass is often enough to get him wide open on digs and comebacks. If you have a frustrated Evans owner in your league and can get a steep discount, I would be looking to buy. This is doubly so if Tampa finds can upgrade 2019’s biggest weakness and find a right tackle either later in free agency or the draft. Brady makes statues look quick and needs a clean pocket to win inside structure.
Many will see this as a huge boost to Howard, a popular breakout candidate who had a much-maligned 2019 season. You're in great shape if you bought low earlier this offseason, but buying now as the price skyrockets is a risky proposition. In fact, if you can sell at an inflated price to an owner who assumes he'll be Gronkowski-lite, pull the trigger. Whether or not he breaks out depends largely on how much schematic influence Brady has on this offense, and whether he can get his confidence back after some embarrassing 2019 performances. Don't give him away - the upside is definitely there - but I'll always recommend selling when the hype starts to boil over. At running back, look for an addition via free agency (Dion Lewis, perhaps?) or the draft to fill the coveted passing down role for Brady. If I was Tampa, I'd also be asking Bill O'Brien about a trade for Duke Johnson following the acquisition of David Johnson. If recent trades are any indication, a 7th rounder and a pint of Guinness should do the trick. Regardless, given his overall inconsistency in pass protection and as a receiver, I don't see a future for Ronald Jones in a Brady-led offense. Sell if you can get anything of value, but that window might be closed.
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