The G.O.A.T. is coming to Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have addressed their starting quarterback situation in the boldest way possible, signing the player commonly referred to as the "greatest of all time:" Tom Brady.
Brady, who tested the free agent market for the first time in his career after 20 historic seasons in New England, signed a multi-year contract with the Buccaneers, the team announced on Friday. Tampa Bay's addition of the three-time NFL MVP is an indication that team architects believe the rest of the roster is already strong enough to compete for a Super Bowl title and are going all-in in that pursuit. Brady has known nothing but winning in his two decades in the NFL, including six Super Bowl championships, 17 division titles and an NFL record 219 victories as a starter.
Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht, who was a member of the Patriots' scouting staff when Brady was drafted in 2000, stressed the quarterback's unmatched track record of success and his undiminished desire for even more titles.
"Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his teammates," said Licht. "I've known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has. He possesses the type of rare natural leadership qualities that will immediately impact our entire organization."
View pictures from QB Tom Brady's 6 Super Bowl victories.
The argument for Brady as the all-time NFL G.O.A.T. is built on those MVP awards and Super Bowl rings, as well as 14 Pro Bowl selections, two Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, 541 touchdown passes and nearly 75,000 passing yards. Heading into 2020 and his new home in Tampa, Brady is second in NFL history in both of those categories, just behind contemporary Drew Brees. Brady is also the all-time postseason leader in most passing categories, including attempts (1,626), completions (1,025), passing yards (11,388), touchdown passes (73), game-winning drives (13) and fourth-quarterback comebacks (nine). His 73 playoff scoring passes are 28 more than the second player on the list, Hall of Famer Joe Montana.
Brady replaces Jameis Winston as the Buccaneers' starting quarterback, with Winston also becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time. In his fifth and final season at the helm in Tampa Bay, Winston threw for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns but was also intercepted 30 times, with seven of those returned for touchdowns. Winston was the first player in NFL history to throw 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season.
In contrast, Brady tossed 24 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions last season and has never been picked off more than 14 times in any season. His career totals of 541 touchdowns and 179 interceptions produces a 3.02 TD-INT ratio that is third-best in NFL history.
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Brady has a career record of 219-64 as a starting quarterback in the regular season, plus a 30-11 mark in the postseason. He is the league's all-time leader in wins as a starting quarterback in both the regular season and the postseason, and he's the only quarterback with 200 victories as a starter. In the 19 seasons that followed Brady taking over as the starter in 2001, the Patriots finished with a winning record every single year and made the playoffs 17 times. Brady's Patriots played in 13 conference championship games and nine Super Bowls. Only once in that span, in 2002, did New England fail to reach double digits in wins, and aside from a 9-7 2002 campaign the only other year that did not end in a playoff appearance was an 11-5 season in 2008. That 2008 season was also the only one in which Brady missed more than four games due to injury.
The crowning argument for Brady as the greatest quarterback in team history is his six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots. New England won the Super Bowl in Brady's first year at the helm and then again in 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018. The Patriots also advanced to the Super Bowl in 2007, 2011 and 2017. Brady's nine Super Bowl appearances are the most by any quarterback and his six Super Bowl wins are the most by any player at any position. Brady is also the all-time leader in Super Bowl MVP awards, with four.
Brady joins a Buccaneers roster that arguably has the best starting wide receiver duo in the NFL. Despite hamstring injuries that ended both of their seasons prematurely, both Chris Godwin (1,333) and Mike Evans (1,157) topped 1,110 receiving yards last year, and the two combined for 17 touchdown receptions. Godwin and Evans ranked second and fourth, respectively, in receiving yards per game in 2019. Godwin ranked third in the NFL in yards after the catch per reception (6.7) while Evans became just the second player in NFL history to open his career with six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The Buccaneers also have a talented tight end duo of O.J. Howard and Cam Brate, and Brady has a long history of maximizing output from the tight end position.
Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians, who has a history of successful collaborations with star quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, is sure that Brady can get the most out of that promising offensive cast.
"Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history of our league, but what makes him so special is his ability to make those around him better," said Arians. "I have had the privilege to work with some of the best passers in our game, and the characteristics they all possessed were the ability to lead and get the best out of their teammates. Tom is no different. He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship."
Tampa Bay also believes it has a defense poised to be one of the league's best. That group features a defensive front that produced 47 sacks and led the NFL in rush defense in 2019 plus a young secondary that was among the league's best at defending passes and creating turnovers over the second half of the season. The Buccaneers have some work to do in free agency to keep its defensive front together but began that on Monday by placing the franchise tag on Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2019. The team then subsequently re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul, who was the team's second-leading sack artist with 8.5 last year, on Tuesday.
Brady's NFL career began in 2000 after he was famously selected in the sixth round (199th overall) by the Patriots. He played in just one game as a rookie but took over in the second game of 2001 when veteran starter Drew Bledsoe was injured on a fierce hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. Brady then started the Patriots' third game of the season and Bledsoe never regained his spot in the starting lineup.
Brady made the Pro Bowl at the end of his first year as a starter after leading the Patriots to wins in 11 of his 14 starts, helping New England tie a franchise record for victories in a season. He then led the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI and was named the game's MVP after he led a game-winning drive in the game's closing seconds against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams.
The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl the following season but Brady and the Patriots returned to take the title in both 2003 and 2004. Brady and the Patriots beat Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII and Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX, with Brady taking another MVP trophy in the former game.
In 2007, Brady led the NFL with 4,806 passing yards, 50 touchdown passes and a 117.2 passer rating as New England became just the second team in the Super Bowl era to finish the regular season with an undefeated record. He was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 50 TD passes in a season and the '07 Patriots set then-NFL records with 75 touchdowns and 589 total points. Those Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLII but lost a thriller to the New York Giants. Brady received the first of his three NFL MVP awards at the end of the season.
Brady was also named league MVP in 2010 and 2017. He went to his fourth Pro Bowl after the 2007 season and then was voted into the all-star game every year from 2009 to 2018. His 14 overall Pro Bowl selections are tied for the most in league history.
Brady was once again the MVP in Super Bowl XLIX following the 2014 season, as he led the Patriots to a narrow win over Seattle by completing 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Those 37 completions were a Super Bowl record until he completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards in Super Bowl LI, as he led the Patriots on the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. New England rallied from a 28-3 second-half deficit to beat Atlanta, 34-28, in overtime and Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for a record fourth-time. Brady's sixth and most recent championship ring came after the 2018 season when he helped the Patriots defeat the Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII. That sixth Super Bowl ring for Brady broke a tie with former 49ers and Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley for the most in league history.
Brady played his college ball at Michigan and hails from San Mateo, California.
View pictures from QB Tom Brady's NFL career thus far.