There is some shame, however, in thinking it's even remotely possible, at least not at this stage of Brady's illustrious career.
There's even more shame in not providing sound reasoning when discussing an opinion of why the team should trade him.
The discussion comes up as a result of a column by Hector Longo of the Lawrence (Ma.) Eagle-Tribune.
Are Tom Brady’s best days behind him?
My opinion? Yes. He’s still elite, top three or four. But he’s not the best of the best any more. We’ve seen too much in big games the last handful of years.
...Do you think Belichick is happy with his quarterback play the last five playoff defeats? Isn’t that why he pays Brady three times as much as the other "stars," so he can make up for their mistakes?
In this instance, after another January disappointment against a driven, rugged, physical but soon-to-be dismantled Ravens team, sending Brady away this off-season would be the best for all parties.
Deal him. Deal him now, while you can have access to some really high bidders.
So, to summarize, the reasoning for trading him stands on three legs:
- Brady's best days are behind him,
- He has struggled in the playoffs over the past decade, and
- the Patriots could maximize the value they get from Brady by trading him now.
Are Brady's best days behind him? Longo's statistical argument is that his completion percentage and yards per attempt were the lowest since 2006.
He also attempted a higher percentage of passes 20 yards or more downfield (13.2 percent) than he has since at least 2009 (via ProFootballFocus.com), so the lower completion percentage could have something to do with that. On top of that, he threw more passes than he's thrown in any season in his 12-year career, and had the league's lowest interception percentage for the second time in three years, so "decline" is a relative term.
If we're even to suggest he's actually in decline, falling from a top-two or -three quarterback to a top-four or -five quarterback isn't exactly the pitfall through which thoughts of a franchise-altering trade are entertained.
Longo even says himself, "[Bill] Belichick needs another trophy like I need air to breathe," and is there any doubt that Brady gives them the best chance to win another one? Even with a talent-loaded offense for the big-armed Ryan Mallett to step into, the transition won't be seamless, and Belichick won't be coaching forever. If he ever wants to breathe again, Brady gives him his best chance by a long shot.
Look at the teams in the Super Bowl. They both got there in large part because of good quarterback play in the postseason, but also because they are talent-laden teams. Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco have combined for 13 total touchdowns (rushing and passing), one interception and a 111.5 passer rating this postseason.
Trading Brady would be a significant downgrade in talent at the game's most important position. Good luck getting enough resources via trade to compensate for the dropoff from Brady to Mallett.
Elite quarterback play is still the biggest key to any team making a playoff run. Good quarterbacks struggle in the playoffs all the time, but teams continue to value top talent at the position because they know how important it is to even getting into the playoffs, much less competing for the Super Bowl.
And on the third point: will a 36-year-old Brady net significantly more in a trade than a 37-year-old Brady? My thought is no. If the Broncos were willing to give Peyton Manning a lucrative (if incentive-based) deal coming off a year away from football and neck surgery, the Patriots could probably yield a king's ransom for Brady at any point they desired to pull the trigger.
Speculative, pot-stirring columns like this one pop up all the time, and rarely does anything come of it. This one should be no different.
The role of any good columnist is to stir the pot and start the conversation, not necessarily to be agreeable. Judging by the reaction from Patriots fans, Longo did his job to a T.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.