While Tom Brady's future became a major topic of conversation around the NFL this week, the future Hall of Fame quarterback is focused solely on trying to win a record seventh Lombardi Trophy in New England. However, should he look to play elsewhere in 2020, several sources who know him well believe there would be one team to clearly watch: the Los Angeles Chargers.
The prospect of Brady, 42, playing as anything but a Patriot is hard for many to get their heads around, and it's something Brady himself wouldn't even discuss with his family until well after this season. Most of the teams expected to be in need of a quarterback wouldn't garner any attention from him (Cincinnati, Tampa, rebuilding Miami, Tennessee), but the Chargers would have a unique appeal to Brady on multiple levels, the sources said, while it's also something the league would covet given the Chargers' current struggles to sell PSLs and sponsorships at the glistening new stadium they will share with the Rams in Inglewood beginning next fall.
Brady's contract is structured to void in March, and he cannot be franchise tagged. It's worth noting that Brady and the Patriots structured it that way in order to provide extreme flexibility should a new collective bargaining agreement be finalized early in 2020, as many are anticipating, that could have new measures for computing the salary cap charges on quarterbacks and could have benefits for both team and player. It does also provide the ability to test the free-agent market for the first time in his near 20-year career as well.
Brady trains often in Southern California and has family in that state. He has held spring passing camps there, his business partner and trainer lives there (Alex Guerrero) as does his throwing specialist (Tom House). Brady has also become increasingly engrossed in Hollywood, with a second career looming perhaps in large-scale productions. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and L.A. already has key pieces on offense in place and a defense that has shined recently when not ravaged by injuries.
The Inglewood facility is expected to be the place to be, and be seen, once constructed, and some who know Brady could see the challenge of rebooting that town as a football market appealing to the quarterback. It would make Chargers games a hot ticket and could conjure images of what the Kings locker room was like when Wayne Gretzky landed there, or what LeBron James has done for the Lakers. Brady would not have to be away from his family for playing, practices or his other business ventures, and if he wants to truly play until he is 45, of all of the possible locales the Chargers were the one sources kept coming back to.
It would be a boon for the league to have its biggest star in that market at such an imperative time, and at this point the Patriots have been going year-to-year anyway with key pieces on the roster, coaching staff and front office. Rob Gronkowski retired this year, Josh McDaniels will again be a hot name for head coaching jobs (some wonder if a McDaniels/Brady combo in Los Angeles would be in order), personnel executive Nick Caserio was ready to leave a year ago and is virtually certain to be elsewhere in 2020, and Bill Belichick, who is approaching age 70, could also opt to retire or try something else come 2020.
There are numerous factors at play, and this is all speculative at this time. But the Chargers provide a unique opportunity on multiple levels, and if any of this does play out, seem like the obvious team to focus on to many close to the quarterback.