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New York, New England … Las Vegas? Where is Tom Brady heading next?

New York, New England … Las Vegas? Where is Tom Brady heading next?

What will be the aging star’s next move: will he stay in Tampa, play elsewhere or finally retire?

You probably heard the talk somewhere during the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-14 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night: could we have just seen the final game in the Hall of Fame career of Tom Brady? Maybe. But it’s also possible that he will prolong his battle with Father Time for another season. Listed for your approval are possible destinations.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why it would make sense: Inertia is powerful. Sometimes, players (and the rest of us) stay in non-ideal situations because it’s too much hassle to move on. Brady made the playoffs with these Bucs this season and he probably could do it again next year. We already know that he’s going through upheaval in his personal life: maybe he doesn’t want to compound that by moving elsewhere. (It would also help if Tampa Bay secure Sean Payton as their next coach.)

Why it won’t happen: Did you see the game he just played? Brady barely completed half of his 66 passing attempts. It was a shock when he unretired to play for Tampa Bay in the first place. It would make even less sense for him to return after a season in which it looked as if he wanted to be literally anywhere else. It’s not like Tampa can slap the franchise tag on him to prevent him from leaving, either.

Las Vegas Raiders

Why it would make sense: The Raiders are very publicly moving on from Derek Carr after a season in which they missed the playoffs despite a promising roster, meaning they may be in the most desperate situation of any of Brady’s potential suitors. Plus, Brady has worked with head coach Josh McDaniels before during their time in New England.

Why it won’t happen: The Raiders would be getting an ageing player in Brady, maybe not the ideal replacement for Carr. Meanwhile, Brady would be heading to a division where he would have to duel Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs alongside Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. And the Raiders’ iffy offensive line is a problem for a quarterback who has shown an increasing aversion to being hit. Not exactly a relaxing way to end an NFL career.

Tennessee Titans

Why it would make sense: It’s the same situation as the Raiders: the Titans are looking for a quarterback with a higher ceiling than the one they had this last season. Brady would at least check that box off. Even if the Jacksonville Jaguars have made a leap, the AFC South would be more winnable than the AFCs East and West.

Why it won’t happen: It’s the same situation as the Raiders: Brady is a stopgap answer and wouldn’t be a long-term replacement for Ryan Tannehill.

New York Jets

Why it would make sense: If Brady ever really wanted to give it to his former head coach, Bill Belichick, it would make plenty of sense to rejoin the Patriots’ historical rivals. The Jets have a solid team that has been consistently held back by poor quarterback play. In New York, Brady wouldn’t have to be the same as he once was, just better than Zach Wilson. Which, let’s face it, isn’t tough.

Why it won’t happen: Once again, it’s a “grass isn’t greener” scenario. The AFC East is a much more hostile environment than the NFC South, where Brady was practically given a postseason slot. Plus, who knows if there is still bad blood between Brady and the Jets after all of those years in opposition. Lord knows it would take the fans some time to adjust to rooting for Brady.

San Francisco 49ers

Why it would make sense: Brady would be heading back home! Haven’t you heard that fact before? He grew up rooting for Joe Montana’s 49ers teams! Think of all the sentimental soft-focus television specials! Plus, the 49ers offer Brady the best supporting cast: they have already advanced to the second round of the playoffs while starting the “Mr Irrelevant” of last year’s draft, Brock Purdy. It’s hard not to fantasize about how far this team could go if Brady has one more great season left in him.

Why it won’t happen: The 49ers already have three starting quarterbacks! It’s difficult enough to figure out what they’re going to do with Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo and Purdy all on the roster. Why would they complicate matters by signing Brady? Would he even be a guaranteed improvement? After all, of the two parties, only one will be sitting at home this weekend.

New England Patriots

Why it would make sense: Brady has always had an eye on Hollywood. If he didn’t, it would be incredibly difficult to explain the mere existence of 80 for Brady. So, what’s a better-scripted ending than Brady returning to the franchise that drafted him and winning one more championship? It’s not like Mac Jones gives New England a better chance.

Why it won’t happen: Brady has already won a Super Bowl without Belichick, but the Patriots head coach can’t say the same without Brady. Given that their partnership ended acrimoniously, it doesn’t feel like the two will be reuniting if any ill-will remains. Chances are they’ll save their inevitable “patching things up” moment for the cameras when Brady is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The lucrative Fox Sports gig

Why it would make sense: There are 375m reasons for Brady to give up playing football, not including the fact that he would be saving his mind and body from the dangers of the sport. Given the seven championship rings and endless NFL records he’s broken, Brady would has very little reason to stay in the league and every reason to become a talking head for Fox Sports.

Why it won’t happen: Because, despite all this, Brady couldn’t remain unretired last year. At this point, we must appreciate that Brady’s desire to continue playing in the NFL may not be a rational impulse but his own personal raging against the dying of the light. Retiring makes the most sense, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the likeliest scenario.

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