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Which NFL team is going to sign Tom Brady? Buccaneers, Chargers are top options for former Patriots QB

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Joe Montana? Extenuating circumstances when you combine a major injury and a stud quarterback alternative as a fallback.

Brett Favre? Maybe his departure from Green Bay doesn't seem so stunning in retrospect.

Peyton Manning? See Joe Montana.

But in the ever-transient world that is the NFL, you probably (understandably) assumed over the years that Tom Brady would surely have bulletproof immunity when it came to the prospect of uprooting yourself in the quest for alternative employment – despite the fact he'd only suited up for Bill Belichick and the cold-blooded New England Patriots during his two decades as a professional.

Yet here we are.

With TB12's announcement Tuesday morning that he and the team he'd led to nine Super Bowls and six Lombardi Trophies were headed for a divorce that once seemed unthinkable, the next question is obvious: Where is he going next?
Dark horses

6. New York Giants: From a lifestyle perspective, Brady has always liked New York. And it would be poetic to watch him supplant retired Super Bowl nemesis Eli Manning and suit up for the one team outside of Foxborough that Belichick has a soft spot for. Brady also knows new coach Joe Judge, would surely love teaming with RB Saquon Barkley, WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram. And the NFC East? Basically up for grabs. But the O-line and defense have not been good. Most importantly, hard to square the Giants sitting QB Daniel Jones, who flashed plenty of potential after displacing Manning in 2019, for two or three years in favor of a fading soon-to-be 43-year-old.

5. Chicago Bears: They clearly have a desire to upgrade under center after watching Mitchell Trubisky regress in 2019 and have been sniffing around Andy Dalton and Nick Foles, according to multiple reports. What they don't have is much cap space, nor an offense that currently supports a statue-esque passer.

4. Denver Broncos: They finished 2019 on a high note, rookie QB Drew Lock winning four of his five starts to end the season. Still, a very limited sample size for a developing player whom teams can now start to plan for. And could GM John Elway, who famously imported Manning in 2012, resist going against his mantra of "I'm not done swinging and missing" at a position he's only capably addressed with Manning to date? This club does have some nice young weapons – RB Phillip Lindsay, TE Noah Fant and Pro Bowl WR Courtland Sutton – and a defense that could soon become elite under second-year coach Vic Fangio. But they'd have to be ready to stunt Lock's early momentum, and Brady would have to believe this team can really overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West.

3. Miami Dolphins: After winning five of their final nine games in 2019, they've been spending Monopoly money in free agency. Brady has ties to coach Brian Flores, formerly New England's defensive play caller, and would surely love the opportunity to play the Patriots twice a year and potentially knock them from their perennial AFC East perch. And yet, no evidence this team can run the ball. And TB12 couldn't just plug into an offense being taken over by unfamiliar coordinator Chan Gailey. Also, with Ryan Fitzpatrick already aboard and all signs pointing toward the selection of a quarterback with the fifth overall pick of the draft, are the Fins really willing to go all in on a player entering his 21st season?



Front-runners

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They want Brady. They have an opening on the depth chart. They want to revive their fan base. They feature a pair of Pro Bowl receivers (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin) and a coach, anti-Belichickian Bruce Arians, who wants to sling it. Florida also has no state income tax. Plenty to like here ... even in a division where the Saints project as the bullies to beat.

1. Los Angeles Chargers: They want Brady. They have an opening on the depth chart. They want to revive their fan base – especially given they're scheduled to move into new SoFi Stadium this season. They've got stud players permeating the roster, including WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, RB Austin Ekeler and franchise-tagged TE Hunter Henry. GM Tom Telesco also has the requisite cap room and No. 6 pick in the draft to fortify the Bolts' biggest concern: offensive line. When you're a California kid in the process of starting up your own Hollywood production company – and one who might want to stay in the AFC (the Chargers will host the Patriots in 2020) – needless to say, this seems tantalizing.
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