Where there's smoke, there's normally fire.
Since Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs by the Tennessee Titans during the wild-card round, whispers have circulated that Brady, who is set to become a free agent, might be set to pack his bag and move from the New England to Las Vegas to join the Raiders.
While it seems improbable that Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick would let Brady leave the Patriots, it appears the Raiders talk wasn't just hot air. If he doesn't re-sign with the Patriots, the Raiders plan to pursue him when free agency opens March 18, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday, citing league sources.
However, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that the Patriots are intent on keeping Brady and are willing to pay him over $30 million per season to stay in New England.
Jon Gruden and Brady have a good relationship and league sources tell Schefter the Raiders coach wants Brady to join the Silver and Black. Brady was seen talking to Raiders owner Mark Davis at UFC 246 in Las Vegas last month and perhaps they weren't just discussing what blackjack table they would be hitting later that night.
Brady, 42, is coming off a season in which the Patriots failed to put the necessary offensive weapons around him to make a successful run at the Super Bowl. With tight end Rob Gronkowski retiring and wide receivers Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon being released, Brady was left with an aging and banged-up Julian Edelman as his only truly reliable target.
The Raiders not only would provide Brady with the contract he feels he is owed after years of team-friendly deals in New England, but also new marketing opportunities as the NFL prepares for its inaugural run in Las Vegas.
On the field, the Raiders have one of the NFL's best offensive lines when fully healthy. Brady's former teammate Trent Brown earned Pro Bowl honors in his first Raiders season, while center Rodney Hudson is the best in the game at his position.
The offensive weapons might be the sticking point with Brady and the Raiders, though, if they ever get to the negotiating table.
While the Raiders have a dynamic tight end in Darren Waller, a clutch slot receiver in Hunter Renfrow and a star feature back in Josh Jacobs, the Silver and Black also lack the outside weapons Brady would want.
That, however, could change in the upcoming NFL draft when the Raiders have two of the first 19 picks. This draft class is loaded with receiver talent from Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb to Clemson's Tee Higgins and Alabama stars Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs.
If the Raiders can lure Brady to Las Vegas, it wouldn't be surprising to see them draft two young receivers early and give the six-time Super Bowl champion the weapons he needs to make their run as successful on the field as it would be off the field.