I was prepared to group the Patriots with Tampa as comprehensive nonstarters for Brady’s final ride. The return of Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator, though, ticks New England up the list. Brady knows him well from the five years BOB served in Foxborough, including the season (2011) when he ran the offense. It seems they almost met again in 2022, as the Bucs were reportedly hoping to hire O’Brien if Byron Leftwich had snagged Jacksonville’s head coaching gig. It’s a selling point.
Rob Gronkowski doesn’t see a New England return, though, with the behemoth telling Travis and Jason Kelce’s New Heights podcast: “I would 100 percent be surprised if he went back to New England, no doubt. It would be nuts, it would be a crazy story, but I just really don’t see that happening. But you never know.”
I see another obstacle. Brady returning to the Patriots could be shaped as Bill Belichick waving the white flag. The quarterback left town and won a Super Bowl while his old coach fumbled through three underwhelming campaigns. There’s something poetically perfect about one more run, but it would require everyone to shove their egos aside. Unlikely.