“Tom is an iconic figure in this organization and nobody respects Tom more than I do.”
Bill Belichick, January 5, 2020. (AKA “Famous Last Words")
It would be a ballsy move to start this with a full-blown recap of the Belichick-Brady relationship over the past 20 years, but that’d be like reviving a dead horse and casting it into the Dead Sea with open wounds. Everyone knows they had a good working relationship, weren’t the Jim and Pam everyone expected them to be, and they won a million games.
Caught up? Good.
Today both find themselves with a problem, and in a unique position to help each other out one last time. For Belichick, his team stinks. The Patriots are Jets bad. If by some miracle they make the playoffs with their current roster, they won’t be there long. A below-eight win season and a high draft pick seem more likely as the weeks go on and the L’s roll in.
For Brady, his problem is he has no problems. He has a cushy corner office in the Buccaneers’ player personnel wing where he calls up old buddies and trades for them or gives them checks with a lot of zeros on them to play football with him. Then he goes on the field and throws the ball to one of six or seven viable offensive weapons. He has the best pass protection in the league. So what’s the problem?
Two letters: A. B.
That could be one of several problems, but this one is on the field.
Antonio Brown’s addition to this offense is about to put quite a few cooks in an offense that’s already churning out some incredible production. But following the Buccaneers-Giants game on Monday night, this Bucs offense will feature the likes of Mike Evans, Brown, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, something called Tanner Hudson, and the backfield of Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. Quite a few mouths to feed.
Something Brady the GM may have learned from Belichick the GM is the balancing act of simultaneously improving your team while also preparing for the future. Just because a team is a Super Bowl contender doesn’t mean they should not make a move that helps now and later, as Belichick did when he traded Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones in 2016.
In the next two offseasons, the Buccaneers will have to pay (or not pay) some major components of their team. Some major names are: Godwin, LaVonte David, Shaq Barrett, Justin Evans, and Carlton Davis. Mike Evans owns the richest contract on Tampa Bay’s roster, one that carries over $50M in cap hits the next three seasons. Unloading Evans’ contract would give the Bucs cap relief over the next fews seasons and create room in their offense for the other weapons’ egos to be quelled. Plus, Evans has not exactly been the most Brady-friendly wide receiver through seven weeks,
A good GM takes any phone call and considers all options. Brady would be wise to explore this option.
At this point it’s become gospel that Stephon Gilmore will be traded. He’s the only asset Belichick can unload that will get him anything of substance in return. The problem is the ramification this may have on the locker room, a concern Tedy Bruschi raised Wednesday on OMF:
While Peter King claims the impact a Gilmore trade would have on the locker room isn’t even a thought in Belichick’s mind, there’s a win-win to consider here. While it would likely be “Gilmore and _______ player or pick,” trading Evans would show the Patriots’ locker room that Belichick isn’t necessarily punting on the season, instantly addresses possibly the most glaring need on the team, and gives the Patriots an elite player at that position for at least three more seasons. The price tag is the price tag, but right now Evans is only the ninth-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL and by 2023 that won’t even be a top 20 wide receiver contract. Evans is also a known commodity--it isn’t a risk to trade for him. What IS a risk is any time Belichick drafts a wide receiver. Why not eliminate that from the equation?
Plus, according to Dale Arnold, Brady apparently loves Gilmore.
Evans has only been targeted four times the past two weeks as Godwin and Miller get healthy and Gronk becomes more involved in the offense. Adding Gilmore, while some money moving might be necessary for the Buccaneers, this trade would give the Buccaneers a proven man-to-man corner as they enter matchups with offensive minds like Sean Payton, Andy Reid and Sean McVay; with elite QBs such as Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, and Matt Ryan; and with any number of offenses they could face in a potentially stacked NFC playoff bracket.
With Godwin already ruled out Monday night, Mike Evans will likely draw James Bradberry in coverage. Bradberry could very well give Evans the treatment he’s given every wide receiver he’s faced so far this season. Today, the Patriots lost their only pass-to-able wide receiver Julian Edelman for “some period of time”. Win or lose to the Bills, an acquisition of Evans is both a short-term and long-term need for the Patriots. And it could be a final scratch on the back from Brady to Belichick and from Belichick to Brady--two guys who have repeatedly said how much they respect one another.