Tom Brady is set to make his long-awaited debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday when he rolls into New Orleans to take on the Saints. Had things turned out a little bit differently this offseason, however, Brady may still be playing in that game, but in a different uniform. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Brady made it clear to various Saints players that he would be interested in signing with them in the event that Drew Brees retired.
Brady mentioned this desire to a handful of Saints players, per Rapoport, knowing that it would get back to the New Orleans brass for them to ponder. It did and New Orleans was into the idea of bringing in Brady had Brees retired, as head coach Sean Payton saw that as the ideal next step under center. Those pursuits, however, were quickly dissolved following Brees' announcement that he would not be ending his NFL career quite yet and would be returning to the Saints in 2020.
Brady landing in New Orleans would have been a fascinating turn of events as he'd not only pair himself with two of the most dynamic offensive weapons the league has to offer in wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara, but he'd also be aligned with an offensive guru in Payton.
As it turns out, Brady's free agent market was pretty robust as Rapoport also confirmed a report from Dan Parick noting that the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback also nearly signed with the Chicago Bears. Rapoport adds that Chicago, who has since named Mitch Trubisky the Week 1 starter after acquiring Nick Foles, did make an offer to Brady, but the quarterback didn't like the prospects of landing in another cold-weather environment. Brady is also said to have reached out to the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts, but both clubs decided to either stick with what they have (Jimmy Garoppolo) or go in another direction (Philip Rivers).
That left the Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers as the two finalists for Brady's services and Tampa Bay ultimately proved to be the winner. No matter where Brady would have ended up, though, it was always going to be an odd sight seeing him step onto a field in a uniform that's not the New England Patriots. While he'll likely always be remembered for his efforts in Foxborough, the quarterback is about to embark on a new chapter in his Hall of Fame career on Sunday.