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#pounditTuesday, January 31, 2023

Reporter floats idea of Tom Brady returning to Patriots

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick celebrate

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (right) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady has yet to indicate whether he plans to return for a 24th season in 2023, but that could once again become the NFL’s biggest storyline at some point in the coming months. If Brady does want to continue playing, the question will be where. One respected reporter is not ruling out the reunion of the century.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic published a story on Wednesday speculating about what could be another wild offseason for NFL quarterbacks. In it, he listed some potential suitors for Brady should the 45-year-old want to continue his playing career with a team other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Howe made fairly predictable cases for the San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans before floating the idea of — wait for it — Brady returning to the New England Patriots.

Howe, who covered the Patriots for 13 years before becoming a national NFL insider for The Athletic, believes it is not out of the question that Brady could play for the Pats again. He said the biggest issue would not be Brady’s and Bill Belichick’s egos. Rather, Brady would need to see that New England can find stability on offense after Belichick made the puzzling decision to bring back Matt Patricia as the team’s primary offensive play-caller.

One move that might entice Brady is if the the Patriots brought back former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. There were rumblings that they might do that prior to this season, but Belichick reportedly had a specific reason for opting against it.

Then there is the question of what to do with Mac Jones. The Patriots could try to trade the former first-round pick, though he is playing under a team-friendly rookie contract through 2024 with a fifth-year option in 2025. Jones seems to have taken a step back in his second NFL season. If he were open to taking a back seat in 2023, he could potentially spend a year being mentored by Brady.

All of this sounds farfetched, and it is. Brady has already proven he can win without Belichick. There is a wide-ranging belief that Belichick’s biggest career goal is to show he can do the same without Brady. If Brady returned to New England and the Patriots won yet another Super Bowl, that would prove even further in the eyes of many that Brady is the primary reason the Pats won all of those championships, not Belichick.

Brady and Belichick have always bonded over their obsession with winning. We also saw last season that the supposed rift between the two seems like water under the bridge. If they feel like making the sports world explode, the opportunity will be there.

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