In a recent clip from the HBO show “The Shop Uninterrupted”, Bucs QB Tom Brady recalls teams’ pursuit of him in free agency over a year ago. In explaining his decision to join the Bucs, Brady mentioned that one unnamed team exited negotiations late in the process, much to his disbelief.
“Looking back, I’m thinking ‘There’s no fuc-ing way I would’ve gone to that team. They said they didn’t want me! I know what that means! I know what that feels like! And I’m going to f— you up because of that.”pic.twitter.com/DZ32TnRdI5
“One of the teams, they were interested, then all of a sudden they weren’t interested at the very end,” Brady said on The Shop. “I was sitting there thinking, you’re sticking with that motherf*****? Are you serious?
“I look back and I say, ‘there’s no f***ing way I would have went to that team! But they said they didn’t want me! And I know what that means. I know what that feels like. And I’m gonna f**k you up because of that.”
Since this episode of The Shop released on Friday with Brady’s full comments, speculation has run wild as to which NFL team he was referring to. I took a look around the internet to see what those more dialed in than myself are saying.
Eliminate These Teams
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We should quickly rule out some teams. The Colts weren’t “sticking with” anyone, as they had just signed Phillip Rivers. I know ESPN’s Jeff Darlington recently mentioned the Saints were a possibility given their under-discussed interest in Brady as a free agent, but there is no way the Bucs QB would refer to Drew Brees that way. Brady would never be in disbelief that New Orleans wanted to stick with an all-time great quarterback.
Many speculated it could have been the 49ers, but Jimmy Garoppolo and Brady are friends and the former had just led San Francisco to the Super Bowl. Also, Brady was very interested in the 49ers, while it sounds like he had just mild interest in this unknown team. The Chargers were widely reported to be all in on Brady, ruling them out as an option.
“Multiple people with deep connections to the NFL’s matrix have reached out in the past 24 hours to express a belief that the unnamed team was the Raiders. Which, obviously, would make Derek Carr the unnamed ‘motherf–ker’.
As both sources explained it, the Raiders dropped out late in the process. As one source explained it, the Raiders thought Brady’s requests for extra things was over the top.”
Florio reasons that because Brady later clarified that he wasn’t going to pick the mystery team even if they hadn’t exited negotiations, the 49ers can be ruled out. That seems to be the general consensus going around, as Broncos Insider and NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright tweeted this last week.
Florio seconded Allbright’s report on the Bears, saying he has “multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation” telling him it wasn’t the Bears. That’s definitely interesting, considering Mitch Trubisky’s clear qualifications to be referred to as “that motherf****r”.
Another reason to believe it isn’t the Bears? FS1’s Colin Cowherd is convinced it was the Bears, and his track record is, well…yeah. Cowherd also mentions that Brady would have been interested in Chicago, which doesn’t necessarily match with the quarterback’s full comments on The Shop. I’m very inclined to agree with Allbright and Florio on this one, ruling the Bears out.
That’s when things get interesting. Cowherd insists there’s no way it could have been the Titans, while Allbright is certain Tennessee is the mystery team.
“It wasn’t Tennessee,” Cowherd said last week. “There were rumors about Tennessee, because Tannehill had just beaten Brady and was red hot. You would look silly saying ‘that guy?’. He just beat you! And played well!”
Cowherd brings up a good point in Brady being unlikely to diss a quarterback he just lost to in the playoffs. But there are more layers to it than that. Ryan Tannehill went 8-15 for 72 yards and one touchdown, one interception in that Titans playoff victory. Not exactly awe-inspiring stuff. Tannehill improved in the divisional round against Baltimore, but his track record at the time wasn’t strong enough for me to rule him out as the mystery quarterback.
Allbright has a different take than Cowherd. After tweeting that the Titans and Tannehill were the team/QB that Brady was referring to, the insider clarified his thoughts to me on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t close (to Brady signing with Tennessee),” Allbright said “He just had interest in a reunion with [GM Jon] Robinson and [head coach Mike] Vrabel. They didn’t really pursue him and then extended Tannehill. That’s what got the frustration quote (from Brady).”
NFL Network’s Rich Eisen agrees with Allbright, ruling out several teams on Monday’s episode of The Rich Eisen Show before settling on Tennessee.
“I think it’s the Titans,” Eisen said. “And that they made a decision that they’re going to stick with Tannehill. He’d played very well, they were gonna sign him to a free agent deal, and he’s gonna be their guy for a long time to come. Not somebody that is going to be year-to-year, potentially.
“I think Brady was interested in kicking the tires on Vrabel, for sure. Everybody just keeps forgetting the Titans because of that bright, shiny object that he was mf-ing Jimmy Garoppolo or [Nick] Foles. Or Trubisky. Or…Drew Brees. I think it’s the Titans.”
The Titans make sense on every level. It’s understandable that Brady wouldn’t think highly of Tannehill, who was just beginning to resurrect his career. GM Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel had past ties to Brady in New England, and the team was close enough to the quarterback’s family on the east coast that the location made sense. The Titans were also competitors, having just gone to the AFC Championship and returning a talented team.
It also makes sense that, while Brady would have considered Tennessee, they wouldn’t have been his top choice. The Bucs were a better roster across the board, and had an offensive-minded head coach. They were all in on Brady from the outset, which meant a lot to the star quarterback. The Titans also clearly weren’t in on Brady at the end, as they re-signed Tannehill five days before Brady announced he was joining the Bucs.
There is evidence the Raiders or Bears could be the mystery team, but I’m convinced it was the Titans. They fit basically every necessary criteria and the timeline of events that actually played out in March 2020.
Unfortunately, if Brady wants to “f**k them up”, he’ll need to hope for a Super Bowl meeting. The Bucs and Titans aren’t scheduled to meet in the regular season until 2023. That’s one year after Brady’s contract expires and he is expected to retire. But we know how Brady is, perhaps the fuel from this snubbing drives him to one last hurrah in 2023.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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