For years, the New England Patriots enjoyed the luxury of being the destination in the NFL. Whenever a high-profile player shook loose, there was almost a collective sigh of defeat by the rest of the NFL's watching world because it knew that the player would inevitably find himself in Foxborough (or at least seriously flirt with the possibility). Not only that, but the Patriots would oftentimes be getting them on a below-market deal. Pretty sweet, right? But why did that occur? It's simple: they won.
When you can almost guarantee that a free agent will be playing in a conference championship game and possibly earn a Super Bowl ring, that's quite the bargaining chip and one that a finite amount of teams have. It's also particularly effective when speaking with those on the back-nine of their careers and still searching for a title.
Over the past two decades, that allure around New England and its ability to be the draw for veteran free agents was thought to be courtesy of the entire Patriots operation: Bill Belichick being the mastermind pulling the strings and playing 3D chess, while Tom Brady continues to flex as the greatest of all time and torch everyone in his sight. While that remains true and a successful approach, it does appear like Brady was able to take that recruiting ability with him to Tampa Bay.
Once Brady inked his deal with the Buccaneers, it didn't take long for other stars to follow. Rob Gronkowski was quick to come out of retirement to join him in Florida. Antonio Brown eventually signed on with Tampa Bay after he was eligible to do so and even Leonard Fournette decided to jump aboard despite the Bucs already having a crowded backfield. What do those three players have in common? They all scored during Super Bowl LV. In fact, the Buccaneers became the first team in Super Bowl history to have every point scored by players who were not on the team the previous season.
That's the Tom Brady effect.
Had Brady elected to stay in New England or sign elsewhere, it seems highly unlikely that anyone in that trio ends up on Tampa Bay's roster for 2020, which is just another key element of the quarterback's arrival on top of his legendary play on the field. Players simply want to play with Brady because they know, that more often than not, they'll be one of the final teams fighting for a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Now that Brady also has a championship to point to in Tampa Bay after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the free agents should continue to come in droves this offseason. Not only will they get to play alongside Brady and contend for a title, but they also enjoy the benefits of living in Florida (no state income tax) and play under the more lax coaching style of Bruce Arians. When you compared that to the militaristic style of Bill Belichick and the harsh weather up in New England, Brady's free agent recruitment pitches are getting easier by the day.
Already, you're seeing veterans begin to eye Tampa Bay as we look forward to next month's start of free agency. The latest is veteran running back Adrian Peterson, who said this week that playing with Brady is "definitely be something I'm interested in."
While we'll continue to marvel at what Brady just accomplished by extending his NFL record to seven Super Bowl titles, it's worth pointing out that his ability to bring free agents with him wherever he goes was instrumental in the Buccaneers' latest championship.
Feel free to add "master recruiter" to Brady's résumé.