Tom Brady-to-Raiders speculation starts after Patriots' playoff loss

Tom Brady-to-Raiders speculation starts after Patriots' playoff loss

Tom Brady to Sin City?

After the New England Patriots' 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC wild-card game Saturday night, the six-time Super Bowl champ and impending free agent gave a wishy-washy answer on his future.

"I would say it's pretty unlikely," Brady said when asked if he plans to retire. "Hopefully unlikely.

"Who knows what the future holds? We'll leave it at that."

With Brady set to turn 43 before the 2021 NFL season opens, the Patriots might be looking to move on and find a younger option (sorry, Jimmy Garoppolo likely isn't available). But if Brady doesn't want to retire, that means he'll have to find a new home.

That combination immediately started speculation about a possible partnership with Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Raiders currently employ Derek Carr, but Gruden didn't exactly guarantee that Carr would be his quarterback next season.

"He played good. I'm not going to get all the next-year scenarios,” Gruden told reporters a day after the Raiders' season-ending loss to the Broncos. “I’m just going to say that 7-9 is a step forward. Statistically, we took a step forward. We have to get a lot of guys healthy, and we have a lot of things to look at and to evaluate before we start making any assumptions."

Carr is set to make $18.9 million in base salary in 2020, but if the Raiders trade or release him before June 1, they will save $16.5 million and take a cap hit of $5 million, according to Spotrac. The numbers get better for the Raiders if they trade or release Carr after June 1. Their cap savings would increase to $19 million and the $5 million in dead money would be split evenly over the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

So it's not out of the realm of possibility for Gruden to move on from Carr.

Now, back to Brady. Though they aren't official sportsbooks, a few pundits have laid down odds on where Brady will play next season, and the Raiders have decent odds.

Yes, the Raiders appear to be a good fit for Brady, but there is another team in the AFC West that might be a better fit: The Los Angeles Chargers.

Philip Rivers' time with the Chargers looks to have come to an end, and a move to Los Angeles would fit with Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen's glamorous lifestyle.

There are a few other things that could stand in the way of Brady signing with Las Vegas. The Raiders travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots during the 2020 season. Would Brady really want to go back to Gillette Stadium in another uniform? That would be a tough thing to do.

The last reason? Antonio Brown. Of course it's Antonio Brown. This wouldn't be a Raiders story without an AB reference.

After the Patriots lost Saturday night, the former Raiders wide receiver tweeted that he only wants to play with Brady in 2020.

If that's the case, then Brady isn't joining the Raiders. But Brown has said a lot of ridiculous things, so we won't hold him to this comment.

[RELATED: Why Gruden should draft Herbert]

Regardless of Brown's involvement, a marriage between Brady and the Raiders seems far-fetched. But crazier things have happened in the NFL.

Just ask the Raiders and Brown.

Tom Brady to Las Vegas Raiders 'has legs,' UFC's Dana White believes

Tom Brady to Las Vegas Raiders 'has legs,' UFC's Dana White believes

Given the uneven performance Derek Carr had in the Raiders' final season in Oakland, it wouldn't be surprising if the team brought in another quarterback to start for the franchise' in its first season in Las Vegas.

Whether it's veterans like Cam Newton and Marcus Mariota or draft prospects like Tua Tagovaiola and Justin Herbert, there's no shortage of possibilities for Jon Gruden to consider as Carr's replacement and/or backup.

By the looks of the Connor McGregor-Cowboy Cerrone UFC fight Saturday night, it appears there's another name on the list, and it's the biggest one possible.

Yep. That would be Raiders owner Mark Davis in the white, and six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady in the black leather jacket on the right. If that doesn't get the rumor mill swirling, the following context might do the trick.

According to Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, UFC president Dana White -- who is a friend of Brady's and already is a suiteholder at Allegiant Stadium -- believes a Brady-Raiders pairing isn't all that farfetched. 

Carr is set to make $18.9 million in base salary in 2020, so it's difficult to see a scenario in which he and Brady are on the same team. Brady might be the best QB of all-time, and simply put, he's not taking a major pay cut. However, the Raiders would save $16.5 million and take a cap hit of just $5 million if they trade or release Carr prior to June 1, which would appear to be a precondition for bringing Brady to Sin City.

Of course, if the Raiders did that, it would be under the assumption that Brady could regain some of his three-time MVP form -- which, if you watched him in New England this past season, is nowhere near a certainty. In fact, one could argue that Carr is a superior QB to Brady right now, thus making that hypothetical move both illogical and unnecessary. While throwing for nearly an identical number of passing yards in 2019, Carr posted a far superior completion percentage than Brady (70.4 percent to 60.8 percent) and averaged 1.3 more yards per pass attempt. Of the 30 quarterbacks that qualified for ESPN's Total QBR rating -- which values the quarterback on all play types on a 0-100 scale adjusted for the strength of opposing defenses faced -- Carr was ranked ninth (62.4), while Brady was ranked 17th (53.7)

[RELATED: Mayock gives glowing review of Carr's 2019 with Raiders]

One would imagine that Gruden knows what he has in Carr, and considering his lukewarm-at-best endorsement of the Raiders' incumbent QB at the conclusion of the season, it wouldn't be surprising if the team opted to go in another direction. Brady certainly would provide plenty of excitement -- and would sell plenty of tickets -- but it would also be a big gamble on the Raiders' part.

Given it's Las Vegas, maybe that's the way to go.

Raiders' Derek Carr 'progressed at rapid rate' in 2019, Mike Mayock says

Raiders' Derek Carr 'progressed at rapid rate' in 2019, Mike Mayock says

As the Raiders pack up their stuff in Oakland and prepare to embrace the bright lights of Las Vegas, they have a number of questions to answer.

How will they address the gaping holes at wide receiver? What about linebacker? And, of course, is Derek Carr the right guy for the job?

With a lack of offensive talent on the outside last season, Carr was serviceable. He led game-winning drives against the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders were 6-4 and flying high. Then the team, Carr included, laid four straight duds to fall out of the playoff picture. Carr remains an average NFL quarterback. He can win games when everything around him is perfect, but he was unable to will the Raiders to wins down the stretch that would have stopped the skid and kept playoff hopes alive. 

It was Year 2 for Carr in head coach Jon Gruden's system and questions about their long-term viability together constantly linger. General manager Mike Mayock, though, was pleased with Carr's play during the 7-9 season.

"As far as Derek is concerned, look, it, Jon demands a lot from his quarterbacks," Mayock told "People don't understand how much, just from a verbiage standpoint all the way to control, pre-snap at the line of scrimmage, you know, his percentage of completions, his ability to command the huddle, his ability to command the pre-snap process at the line of scrimmage, his accuracy. He's got arm talent.

"You look at his development between him and Darren Waller, you know, Darren Waller had 90 catches for over 1,000 yards. Darren Waller is a Pro-Bowl tight end by any definition. And then the chemistry he developed with Hunter Renfrow. I think we've got a good offensive line and what we have to do is a better job of supporting him with some more wide receiver talent, the ability to catch the football, uh, the ability to spread the ball around a little bit. You know, Derek handled everything Jon threw at him mentally. I thought he progressed at a rapid rate in year two in Jon's system."

That certainly sounds like the Raiders will be bringing Carr back. 

There will be a number of quarterbacks on the free-agent market for Gruden to bring it to provide competition for Carr should he desire.

The Raiders also have two first-round draft picks and could use one to select a high-end prospect like Oregon's Justin Herbert, Utah State's Jordan Love or Washington's Jacob Eason if one of them appeals to Gruden. 

[RELATED: Raiders should stick to draft blueprint, raid Clemson-LSU]

With more talent on the outside and a defense capable of getting off the field at a more regular clip, perhaps Carr will play at a higher level in Las Vegas.

If not, his time with the Raiders could be over shortly.