The 2020 home of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one of the big unknowns of free agency. He could return to New England. He could play elsewhere. One thing is for sure, though. He won't be playing for the Tennessee Titans.
It was easy—and admittedly a bit fun—to connect the dots between Brady and the Titans; Tennessee is fresh off an appearance in the AFC title game and has Brady''s former teammate Mike Vrabel as its head coach.
However, the Titans also have a resurgent quarterback in Ryan Tannehill—one they locked up Sunday. The former Miami Dolphin agreed to a four-year, $118 million extension with Tennessee, according to ESPN's Jeff Darlington.
This means that the market for Brady is shrinking, and it might not stop at Tennessee.
According to Chris Simms of NBC Sports, the San Francisco 49ers are also out on Brady this offseason:
"Here's the big news to me, alright. The 49ers are out on Tom Brady. That is not going to happen. And my understanding, it was Tom Brady's No. 1 choice, to go to San Francisco and be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. ... The 49ers are out on Tom Brady, and they will be standing pat with Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback."
As was the case with Tennessee, the speculation may have been more fun than realistic. Garoppolo is under contract through 2022, and the 49ers are projected to have a little more than $16 million in cap space.
With Tennessee and San Francisco both out of the Brady sweepstakes, it feels like Brady's options may be limited to New England and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to ESPN's Dianna Russini, Tampa may be one of the few teams willing to accommodate Brady's demands.
"Some of the things Brady wants: control over roster, he wants to be part of making decisions on the play-calling," Russini said on Get Up.
As for New England, it's fair to wonder how badly the Patriots want to bring him back. According to WEEI's Dale Arnold, the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick have only made the six-time champion a one-year offer.
One former Patriot believes the one-year deal was a sign that Belichick is ready to move on.
"The offer was insulting to Tom," former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson told Arbella Early Edition (h/t Jacob Camenker of NBC Sports Boston). "And so, to me, Bill really doesn't want Tom as his quarterback."
Brady's decision could come down to two things: money and a desire to win. If Brady wants to maximize his earnings, the Buccaneers may be the only option. If he wants to chase one more ring, a return to the Patriots may make the most sense.