For months, Brady was asked whether he would finish his career with the Patriots, an outcome that looked less and less likely as the 2019 season went on. Brady said several times last year that he wanted to return to New England, but Belichick would not give a firm commitment.
Several teams were thought to be seeking Brady, including the Los Angeles Chargers, who need to replace Philip Rivers, their longtime quarterback. Rivers has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Buccaneers joined the hunt for Brady after appearing to have lost patience with quarterback Jameis Winston, who is an unrestricted free agent. Their head coach, Bruce Arians, is considered an offensive mastermind, having led high-powered offenses in Pittsburgh and Arizona. He was also Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach in Indianpolis. Last season, Arians’s first with Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers had the third-best offense in the N.F.L., averaging nearly 400 yards a game. Wide receiver Chris Godwin averaged 95 receiving yards per game, the second most in the league.
Successful second acts are hard, though. Only a handful of marquee quarterbacks have left their longtime teams and won Super Bowl titles elsewhere.
Joe Montana led the Kansas City Chiefs to the A.F.C. championship game in the 1994 playoffs after winning four Super Bowls in 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Brett Favre took the Minnesota Vikings to the N.F.C. championship game 10 years ago after winning one Super Bowl trophy in 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Peyton Manning won one Super Bowl in 13 years with the Indianapolis Colts, then a second title in his fourth and final year with the Denver Broncos.
Regardless of how Brady performs in a new uniform, his legacy is established. In addition to the six championships, nine Super Bowl appearances and 17 division titles, Brady has thrown for 74,571 yards and 541 touchdowns, trailing only Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints in both categories.
Attention will be heaped on Tampa Bay, which will host the Super Bowl next February. The team has had only one winning season in the past decade, and has not qualified for the postseason since 2007. The Buccaneers have not won a playoff game since the 2002 season, when the team claimed its only Super Bowl championship.