Tom Brady will make his Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, but the 43-year-old could have very well been suiting up in black and gold instead.
According to an ESPN report, had Saints quarterback Drew Brees decided to retire after the 2019 season – something he came very close to doing – the franchise’s backup plan was to sign Brady as his replacement.
While Brees had said publicly in February he wanted to play in 2020, he was also receiving television offers and reportedly considered beginning his TV career this year before accepting a deal with NBC to become an analyst upon his retirement.
Meanwhile, the Saints felt strongly that they could land Brady, who has a good relationship with head coach Sean Payton, and continued to discuss internally the possibility of signing him and how the six-time Super Bowl champion could fit into the offense in the days leading up to free agency.
Of course, the Saints eventually struck a deal with Brees on March 13 for two years, $50 million.
Four days later, Brady would sign the same deal with the Bucs, although fully guaranteed.
Per ESPN, the Los Angeles Chargers also had interest and conversations with Brady while the Miami Dolphins also attempted to make a late run, although talks failed to gain much traction.
Now, Brady will be going head-to-head with the 41-year-old Brees – who enters the season leading Brady as the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader and touchdown leader.
It will mark the first time since 1998 that the NFL’s top two passing yards leaders will play each other, which was between Dan Marino and John Elway.