Schefter: Tom Brady Is NFL's 'LeBron Effect,' Free Agents Want to Join Bucs

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The reported signing of quarterback Tom Brady is apparently already paying dividends for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, news of Brady agreeing to join the Bucs has led to an "unexpected high number of players" reaching out to the Buccaneers to express interest in playing alongside TB12.

Schefter called it the "NFL version of the LeBron effect" since NBA players often want the opportunity to be teammates with LeBron James because of his penchant for making those around him better.

The Bucs went just 7-9 last season and haven't reached the playoffs since 2007, but with Brady in the fold, they are suddenly viewed as a legitimate threat in the NFC.

The 42-year-old Brady is set to join the Buccaneers after 20 remarkable seasons in New England. During that time, Brady was a 14-time Pro Bowler, six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time NFL MVP.

Brady wasn't his dominant self last season, completing 60.8 percent of his passes for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Pats still went 11-5 and won the AFC East, but a lack of offensive weapons came back to haunt them in a shocking AFC Divisional Round playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.

A lack of weapons won't be an issue for Brady in Tampa Bay, as he will be flanked by a pair of Pro Bowl wideouts in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus a supremely talented tight end in O.J. Howard, who may finally break out under Brady's leadership.

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The Bucs do have some holes to fill after going just 7-9 last season, though, and Brady's presence could aid them in that regard.

Tampa has question marks in the backfield since it isn't yet clear if Ronald Jones is a starting-caliber running back in the NFL. As a result, perhaps the Buccaneers could convince former Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon to sign at a reasonable price.

The Bucs also have a glaring hole at right tackle, and they could use some depth along the defensive line and in the secondary.

Many of the important pieces are in place, though, including a quarterback with good weapons, top-flight pass-rushers in Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, and a couple of athletic linebackers in Lavonte David and Devin White.

The New Orleans Saints are probably still the team to beat in the NFC South, but if Brady's presence aids general manager Jason Licht in filling out the rest of the roster, Tampa has a legitimate chance to challenge for a division crown in 2020.