In the end, Tom Brady wanted to end his career on his own terms, away from the New England Patriots and all he has known in his NFL career.
The six-time Super Bowl champion informed the world yesterday he would not be returning to the Patriots. With several teams already ruled out, it appeared Brady was choosing between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins with the Raiders still having an outside shot.
The soon-to-be 43-year reportedly plans to agree to sign with the Bucs, moving to Florida to play for Bruce Arians and an offensive arsenal that includes Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Brady's decision to head to Tampa instead of Vegas or LA reportedly was due to one thing in particular -- location.
"One team jumped out, and that was Tampa," ESPN's Adam Schefter said Tuesday night on "SportsCenter." "I think Tampa had a geographic advantage that no other team could really offer. The Chargers are out West. The Raiders are out West. That was something that I think gave Tampa a slight edge. You combine that with a coach who has coached great quarterbacks through time like Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has a history of working with top-flight quarterbacks. I'm sure that was appealing to Tom Brady."
The Raiders always seemed like a long-shot to sign Brady. The legendary quarterback is in win-now mode and the Raiders currently still are in Phase 1 of a rebuild. The Raiders also don't have the offensive weapons Tampa Bay does, and Brady surely didn't want a repeat of his final year in New England where he struggled to move the ball.
Still, the move to the Bucs is not a sure thing. The NFC South is one of the toughest divisions in football, and the Bucs will need to shape up their offensive line and leaky defense if they truly plan to make a run at the Super Bowl with Brady.
The Raiders, meanwhile, have been wheeling and dealing in free agency. The Silver and Black agreed to terms with several players including, Cory Littleton, Marcus Mariota, Maliek Collins and Carl Nassib.
Expect more moves out of the Raiders this offseason, but Brady won't be one of them. No. 12 is headed to Tampa Bay. It's still weird to write that.