Elise Amendola/Associated Press
By this time next year, Andy Dalton could be starting for the New England Patriots and Taysom Hill could be leading the New Orleans Saints. Rumors suggest a chance, however minuscule, that Tom Brady signs elsewhere and that Drew Brees elects to retire.
Still, those scenic routes feel unlikely. The clearest path forward has Brady back in New England and Brees back in New Orleans, both on potential final quests for the Lombardi Trophy.
Based on conversations with sources close to Brady, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that TB12 “has absolutely no plans of retiring at this point,” but that “if he’s going to return to the Patriots, it will be, in some capacity, on his own terms.”
That emphasis on “his own terms,” is tantalizing. Perhaps for no one more than NBC’s Peter King, who expressed that his “gut feeling is that [Brady’s] probably going to play somewhere else.” Considering Brady’s principal needs, money and offensive weapons, King’s concerns with New England are legitimate.
In his Bizarro World timeline, King proffered that “Bill Belichick would really like to work with Andy Dalton.”
Is there a world in which Brady ends up running an offense in Carolina, Chicago or Indianapolis? Sure. Is it our world? Probably not.
According to Brady on Instagram, he will be back: “You don’t always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that’s right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove.”
It’s no certainty that he’ll be back in New England. But, with improvements to the health of his offensive line and more experience for his young receivers, Brady has enough of a competitive edge to try running it back in 2020. Especially if the Patriots can go ahead and snag him a weapon like Eric Ebron at tight end.
As for the other Hall of Famer, Brees is also likely to return to his team in 2020. Although a horrible playoff performance was the exclamation point on a season marred by injury and waning production, Brees is New Orleans royalty and the team should remain his moving forward.
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Saints fans may be interested in handing the reins over to the dynamic Taysom Hill, but that swiss army knife needs some serious sharpening if he is going to regularly carve up NFL secondaries. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Brees “wants to remain in New Orleans, and the likelihood is they get together and work something out.”
Aging incumbents don’t necessarily finish the season as starters, though. Just as Lamar Jackson worked in on gadget plays before usurping Joe Flacco halfway through Baltimore’s 2018 season, Taysom Hill’s snap share could grow in 2020. Hill was New Orleans’ best player in their playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings and even took over deep-bomb duties from Teddy Bridgewater, who had originally taken over those duties from the intermediate-friendly Brees.
Like Brady, Brees should be re-signed and start for his longstanding team next season. Unlike Brady, who should receive little pressure from a raw Jarrett Stidham, Brees could have competition for his job by season’s end.
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