No one, in their right mind, can argue with Tom Brady’s talent. He has been one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks since he took over the starting role for the New England Patriots back in 2001. In one of professional sports’ greatest underdog stories, Brady rose from the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, to winning three championships in four years, taking home the Lombardi trophy in 2001, 2003, and 2004.
While continuing to post stellar stats year after year, Brady has failed to win a Super Bowl since the 2004 season, despite the Patriots’ consistent role as a top contender. To be fair, the burden of winning does not fall squarely on the quarterback’s shoulders. However it is also worth noting that Tom Brady is not your average quarterback. While it may seem ludicrous to trade one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL, let’s take a look back at some of New England’s moves in past years.
Let’s start with the move that made this whole conversation possible. Drew Bledsoe was drafted first overall in the 1993 NFL Draft. He turned a then-pathetic New England squad into a Super Bowl contender in just four years. Bledsoe was viewed as a top quarterback for most of his tenure with the Patriots, earning him a record setting ten year, $103 million contract in 2001. Despite the deliberate show of confidence in their starting quarterback, a sheared blood vessel led to a relatively unknown Michigan alumni finally getting his chance to lead the Pats. The rest was history, as Tom Brady was named the starting quarterback over a healthy Drew Bledsoe for the beginning of the 2002 season.
It’s difficult, at this point, to look back and remember exactly how controversial the decision to trade Bledsoe really was. While Tom Brady showed some serious potential, Bledsoe was a top level quarterback and a hero in New England at the time. In retrospect, the decision seems like an obvious choice. The truth is, this bold move demonstrated New England’s ability to separate emotion from logic and make tough choices, when necessary.
There’s no better example of this decisiveness, than the recent fiasco with Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Wes Welker. The move caught many Patriot fans completely off guard, and although there has been speculation as to the exact cause of the exit, it has become increasingly evident that this may have been one small piece of yet another master plan in New England. Shortly after Welker left, the Patriots signed St. Louis wide receiver Danny Amendola to help replace some of the lost production. Although at first glance, it seems as if the Patriots may have downgraded at the slot receiver position, I wouldn’t be surprised if Amendola has a break out year under the Brady/Belichick system, putting all the critics and naysayers in their place.
So the question stands; how much longer will Tom Brady remain in New England? After agreeing to a three year contract extension that will carry into the 2017 season, many fans are assuming that Brady will end his career as a Patriot. I’m not here to tell you that this definitely won’t be the case, however you’d have to be a fool not to acknowledge the possibility of a different scenario.
Any combination of several different factors could lead to the potential trading of Brady down the road. For one, he has expressed some discontent with the recent Welker situation. According to Jen Slothower with NESN.com, a source close to Brady described his mood as “bummed out.” I’m sure his mental toughness will be more than enough to overcome any sort of resentment towards the organization, but then again, you never know how a decision like this can weigh on the mind.
A more tangible reason is age. The 35 year old Tom Brady is not showing any signs of slowing down just yet, however time eventually catches up with everyone. The Patriots organization has a history of spotting warning signs early and getting rid of players just at just the right time; even if fans can’t always see the end result right away. Is it really so unrealistic to imagine Brady going the way of Bledsoe and Welker? Maybe it won’t be tomorrow, and maybe it won’t even be next year, but if the Patriots do decide to part ways with their current leader, you won’t be able to count me among the surprised. All I’m saying, is that the phrase “In Belichick We Trust” was not born out of idiotic, rash decisions. Remember that.