Chargers Free Agency

LA Chargers: Diminishing market could lead to a cheaper Tom Brady

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up with the ball during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up with the ball during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Speculation by the media has long linked the LA Chargers to Tom Brady. While many fans originally balked at the idea, a diminishing market for Tom Brady could allow the Chargers to sign Brady for a palatable price.

Since early in the offseason, the LA Chargers have been considered one of the most likely destinations for Tom Brady. Many fans have not liked this idea at all.

However, the media did not create this connection out of thin air; there are certainly reasons for the Chargers to seek Tom Brady for both football and non-football reasons.

The non-football reasons are obvious. The Chargers have a brand-new stadium to fill, and Tom Brady would certainly be a way to at least draw some initial interest from Los Angeles football fans that are not necessarily fans of the Chargers.

From a football standpoint, Tom Brady is still a capable quarterback. While he certainly does not fit Anthony Lynn’s desire for a mobile quarterback, Brady produced last year with over 4,000 yards and a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio despite having one of the worst supporting casts of his career at receiver. He received a nice 80.4 grade from PFF on the season.

Yet, Chargers fans are also qualified in their desire to avoid Brady. For starters, why would the Chargers shun an aging but still effective Philip Rivers just to replace him with an older Tom Brady who is certainly in decline?

The idea of moving on from a franchise icon to replace him with a franchise nemesis is also sure to cause anger among Chargers fans.

However, those with the ability to put biases behind them are most concerned by the cost it would take to acquire Brady.

Spotrac estimates that Tom Brady will command a contract in the range of $33.8 million per year. Such a cost would sink the vast majority of the Chargers’ cap space.

As of this writing, the Chargers have about $52 million in cap space. Subtract Brady’s contract and the $6-8 million that would be needed to sign minimum players and this year’s draft picks, and the Chargers would have only $10-12 million to sign free agents at other positions of need. This includes both tackle spots, wide receiver, cornerback, and the defensive line. This, of course, does not include the Chargers’ own free agents that need to be re-signed or players that need extensions.

Clearly, signing Tom Brady for $34 million would hamstring the Chargers greatly for the rest of the offseason. However, recent developments may make that price much more palatable.

According to experts who have knowledge of the situation, Tom Brady’s suitors may be down to just three teams: the Los Angeles Chargers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New England Patriots.

The tampering window has opened and #Patriots QB Tom Brady’s agent can hear from teams. My understanding: The #Chargers and #Bucs will inquire, and of course New England wants him back. That is Brady’s market as of right now.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020

The Tennessee Titans were a major player in the Brady sweepstakes that were eliminated by the Ryan Tannehill extension.

The New England Patriots have a clear need for Brady at quarterback and extra incentive due to a $13.5 million dead cap charge that they will receive if Brady moves on. However, they have not been making moves to create space for a large Tom Brady contract, as they used a large chunk of their cap space when they franchise tagged Joe Thunley and more when they re-signed Matthew Slater.

This leaves the market for Tom Brady looking a lot thinner than it did before free agency. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be the only team interested in Brady that would give him the exorbitant contract that he desires.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers clearly have the cap space to add Brady and others as well in free agency, but is Tampa Bay really a good destination for a quarterback that should be seeking his last Super Bowl rings?

If the Los Angeles Chargers offer more to Tom Brady than the Patriots (who have little cap space) but less than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who have tons of cap space but possibly little appeal), they may be able to put together a solid pitch at a reasonable price.

But just how low can the LA Chargers bid and still have a shot at Brady? Surely, the price will not fall too far below $25 million per year, but that could be enough of a drop to convince Tom Telesco to make a serious offer for Brady while still allowing the freedom to make another move or two in this year’s free-agent class.

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How low would the price for Tom Brady have to drop for you to feel comfortable with the LA Chargers signing Brady? Let us know in the comments section below.

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