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Tom Brady and the... Raiders? Saints? 49ers? Buccaneers? Looks like another Tom-A-Thon is coming [Video]

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Before the Las Vegas Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell flat this season, before the NFL knew the Miami Dolphins banter falsification with Tom Brady, before the quarterback high profile divorce and FTX Crypto Nightmare, Dana White opened the door on an off-season microscope that is only going to intensify.

Tom Brady and the Las Vegas Raiders. It was the missed connection the UFC president gave the world. First in August, when Brady’s best friend Rob Gronkowski convinced White to tell the almost story of how the MMA promoter brokered a deal to bring Brady and the All-Pro tight end to Las Vegas. Then again in December, when White appeared on ESPN’s “Manningcast” on “Monday Night Football” and repeated the story.

In a nutshell, White claims he laid the groundwork to bring Brady to the Raiders in the months leading up to the 2020 season, only to have then-head coach Jon Gruden nuke the whole thing at the last second.

As White reminded Gronkowski on that August UFC podcast, “It was almost a done deal. And at the last minute, Gruden blew the deal and said he didn’t want [Brady] and all hell broke loose, man. It was crazy. And Brady was already looking at houses. It had not yet been said that Gronk was coming. So Las Vegas would have had Brady and Gronk the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl — except Gruden blew the deal.

At the time White made his claim, it was sassy backstory that seemed to fill a much-speculated empty spot created by Brady when he appeared on HBO’s “The Shop” in 2021. It was an appearance that is became infamous when he bitched about a mystery team passing him on before he finally signed with the Buccaneers and won a Super Bowl after the 2020 season. The gist of Brady’s complaint: the team that going over him was sticking to an incumbent quarterback who he clearly thought was an inferior player to himself.

As Brady put it succinctly, “One of the teams – and they weren’t interested at the very end – I was thinking, are you staying with that mom?”

White’s story seems to indicate that the team is the Raiders and the quarterback is Derek Carr. The clip gathered cobwebs until this week when it all became relevant again in one roster move: the Raiders bench Carr for the rest of the season and ask him to step away from the team. It was a sure sign that his days in Las Vegas are over and the franchise will be in the market for a new quarterback in 2023.

The multiple points of relevance are not difficult to distinguish here. But let’s run through them, in what will be our first steps into another off-season Tom-A-Thon. The trek could include a whole host of teams, but for now, it’s worth wondering why the Raiders make the most sense.

There are familiar Patriots faces for Brady in Las Vegas

Brady is expected to become a free agent this offseason. Although he is heading towards his 46th birthday in August, he said this week retirement was the “furthest thing” from his mind. The availability of free agents and Brady seeming to leave the door wide open to further his NFL career are key pieces of that puzzle.

Josh McDaniels, his former offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, is now running Las Vegas and he’s going to seek an experienced quarterback to turn the key on a depth board that the owner has invested a lot of money in. Mark Davis team. The same Raiders franchise is currently expected to have nearly $62 million in salary cap space this offseason if it releases or trades Carr. As it stands, that would be the third-most amount of cap space in the NFL entering free agency. There will be plenty of money to re-sign or to sign running back Josh Jacobs, add Brady and add offensive and defensive pieces.

There’s the positioning of Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler, who was a rising star on the New England staff team and overlapped with part of Brady’s eventual blossoming with the Patriots. Ziegler told Yahoo Sports in August that he believes establishing a good culture of focus and detailed preparation will be a big part of any success in Las Vegas. Few players are more capable of helping to instill that than Brady.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 18: Tom Brady poses for a photo with UFC President Dana White during the UFC 246 event at T-Mobile Arena on January 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dana White tried to tell us. Tom Brady, posing for a photo with the UFC president on Jan. 28. On February 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, he almost became a Raider, White said in a few interviews. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

What Dana White Told Rob Gronkowski Was Never Shot

Dana White’s story about Brady hugging the Raiders in 2020 remains undisputed, which strongly suggests the quarterback felt Something was appealed about the franchise three years ago. By the way, Gronkowski confirmed on that same podcast that White’s story was “exactly what happened.” And all of that was before the franchise was led by a head coach that Brady knows and trusts, and a general manager who has experience finding the kind of talent that works best around of the quarterback.

Gronkowski’s inclusion in this 2020 Raiders equation becomes more relevant with simmering speculation that the tight end is considering a return to the NFL for the 2023 season … potentially to play with Brady again. Even turning 34 in May, it’s hard to imagine a more fit human being for Las Vegas than Gronkowski.

Davis played dumb when it came to White’s story about Brady, saying he “didn’t know” and was “talking to Dana.” This is not a denial of the state of the art.

Once again, following this line of suggestion, Davis was likely aboard the pursuit until Gruden blew it up. And while Davis might have a penchant for being a frugal franchise owner (last offseason not including that), that’s probably not a hard sell when it comes to envisioning Brady in a Raiders uniform. (What better way to exorcise the fallback game?)

It’s a solidly compelling case for Brady to stay in the NFL and be sued by the Raiders. Nor is it a media creation. When you reach out across the league and ask people to set up a Brady chase, what you hear is that the Raiders make more sense than anyone now that Carr is out of the fold.

How do other teams consider potential landing spots for Brady?

That doesn’t mean Brady won’t have options. Staying in Tampa is still on the table, although there’s a strong indication coming from Brady’s camp that it would require significant changes to the offensive coaching staff.

The Miami Dolphins might have been Brady’s favorite a year ago, but that seems highly unlikely with the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa (concussions aside) and the league tampering investigation that has burned the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and stripped a first-round pick in the 2023 draft.

San Francisco? Unlikely.

The Saints of New Orleans? Possible, but that would require a longer return of Sean Payton as head coach.

Of all those franchises, only one made an early commitment to jettison a former Pro Bowl quarterback for something different in 2023. It’s the Raiders. It’s a franchise that may not be where the Tom-A-Thon offseason ends, but it’s certainly where it begins once the Buccaneers wrap up their season.

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