CLEVELAND — Could future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady really walk away from the New England Patriots and play for the Cleveland Browns?
It is a question being asked as Brady’s contract came to an end with Saturday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans in a Wild Card Playoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
According to BetOnline, if Brady chooses to continue his NFL career away from the Patriots, the Browns are considered the favorite (11-to-2 odds) to land the future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
Along with the Browns, the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers have been given 6-to-1 odds, while the Dallas Cowboys (7-to-1), Indianapolis Colts (8-to-1) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-to-1) rounded out the top seven likely landing spots for Brady.
Here are three reasons why the Browns should say, “Thanks, but no thanks” to the idea of Brady joining the team.
Having just completed his 20th NFL season, Brady will be 43 early in training camp in August and will be coming off of a year in which he saw significant drops in production despite throwing the third-most attempts in his career.
During his 326 regular-season and playoff games, Brady has taken plenty of hits, being sacked 566 times for 3,538 lost yards, and that damage becomes cumulative no matter how good of a job one does with nutrition and conditioning.
Historically, Brady was the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl when he led the Patriots to the championship last season, but no other quarterback has ever won the NFL’s final game of the season past the age of 39.
Trend wearing thin
Brady completed 373 of his 613 attempts (60.8 percent) for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns against eight interceptions while leading the Patriots to their 11th straight AFC East Division title and their 17th in his tenure with New England.
Brady threw for nearly 300 fewer yards, completed five percent less of his attempts and five fewer touchdowns when comparing 2019 to 2018. Over the last two years, Brady has gone from throwing 32 touchdowns in 2017 to 24 in 2019.
Brady’s 24 touchdown passes in 2019 were his fewest since throwing 24 in 2006. It was Brady’s second-least prolific season in terms of touchdown throws in which he played in all 16 regular-season games.
Additionally, Brady’s completion percentage, completions, passing yards, average yards per play and game and touchdown throws have been on a steady decline over the last three seasons.
The Browns invested heavily in quarterback Baker Mayfield when they took him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and while the offense had some growing pains during the 2019 season, the team needs to give him an opportunity to work with a new coaching staff, not scuttle his development with the presence of an aging veteran looking for one final run in the spotlight.
Mayfield completed 317 of his 534 attempts (59.4 percent) for 3,827 yards and 22 touchdowns against 21 interceptions in 2019 after completing 310 of his 486 throws (63.8 percent) with an NFL rookie-record 27 touchdowns against 14 picks.
“I think with everything that was put on his plate, both in terms of leadership and as a player, his first full year, he did a remarkable job,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said. “We need to do everything we can to help Baker realize his full potential. That’s something all of us in the organization are focused on.”