Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his family may be permanently relocating from their moated L.A. mansion to Boston, but at some point he’ll pno longer be the quarterback of the local NFL team, permanently.
Said team’s decision to host the likes of Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Johnny Manziel, while not believed to be intended to yield Brady’s successor, brings into focus — at least temporarily — the reality that, at some point, the Pats will transition from Brady to someone else.
It’s a problem every team with a Hall of Fame quarterback faces. And rarely does a Steve Young fall into a franchise’s lap. For the Patriots, the question becomes whether planning for eventual life without Brady makes more sense than devoting draft picks (especially first-rounders) to helping him win another Super Bowl or two before he retires, or is retired.
The Packers faced that prospect nine years ago, opting to stop Aaron Rodgers’ round-one free fall and to squirrel him away in the event Brett Favre’s annual game of will-I-or-won’t-I left Green Bay without its long-time starter. Favre surely would have preferred having that selection devoted to someone who would have helped the team advance past, for example, the Giants in the 2007 NFC title game. By taking Rodgers, the Packers passed on players like Roddy White, Heath Miller, and Logan Mankins.
For the Patriots, what will they do if Manziel or Bridgewater remain on the board at No. 29? Bringing them in for a visit helps better position the Pats to make that decision, if/when the opportunity arises. But using that pick on either player means that someone else who could help the team win now will be left on the board.
Of course, Bill Belichick and company can hope to find another future Hall of Famer lurking in round six, but that sort of lightning strikes far more rarely than twice every 14 years. And it may never happen two times for the same franchise, ever.
No matter what form the plan takes, Belichick surely will have one. The Colts suffered through one horrible season with Peyton Manning injured to fall into position to get Andrew Luck, Belichick won’t rely on good fortune when it comes to the quarterback position. With his own legacy incomplete until his accomplishments without Tom Brady are known, a real challenge is lurking for the man regarded by many as the best coach in NFL history.
Brady’s revised contract will make it easier to justify keeping him around for 2015, 2016, and 2017, since the salaries are ridiculously low in comparison to the quarterback market. At some point, however, Belichick may decide that the sun is rising for a young quarterback before it has fully set on the one-time upstart who’ll be 37 when the Patriots play their first regular-season game of 2014.