Buccaneers GM sees no decline in ex-Patriots QB Tom Brady's arm talent

Buccaneers GM sees no decline in ex-Patriots QB Tom Brady's arm talent

Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has dealt with critics his entire career despite the unprecedented success he's enjoyed, and those voices were quite loud during the 2019 season.

The Patriots finished the regular season with a 4-4 record over their last eight games, including an embarrassing Week 17 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins that prevented New England from earning a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. Brady and the Pats ultimately lost to the Tennessee Titans at home in the AFC Wild Card Round.

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It was a disappointing season for the Patriots, and Brady's less-than-stellar play resulted in lots of criticism over his allegedly declining skills. Brady stunned many people throughout out New England by deciding to leave the Patriots and sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. The Buccaneers don't see Brady's arm declining at all, and they aren't concerned about his mobility, either.

“Well, the tape to us showed that (Brady) had plenty of arm,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said Monday on ESPN's "Get Up!" morning show.

“In fact, we thought that he had the ideal arm for Bruce and his system. He can still throw it deep. We felt like the mobility was still the same as he’s always had, which he’s never been able to out-run anybody, but he’s certainly good in the pocket in terms of eluding pressure with his poise and his instincts. We did not see a decline in his arm talent whatsoever, and in fact, we feel like he could still play for over two years for us. Hopefully, that’s the case.”

Brady still tallied very respectable stats (4,057 yards, 24 TD, eight INT) in 2019 despite his age, and there's little evidence to suggest he won't be an effective quarterback over the duration of his two-year contract with the Bucs

Even if Brady is no longer a top-five quarterback, he'll no doubt be an upgrade -- and likely a substantial one -- over Tampa Bay's previous QB, Jameis Winston.

Winston led the league in passing yards and ranked second in passing touchdowns last season, but he also led in interceptions by a wide margin. Thirteen of his 30 interceptions came in the fourth quarter or overtime, and this was a huge factor in the Buccaneers losing six games by a one-score margin. Brady has thrown 29 interceptions over the last four years combined, and his impressive decision-making with the football should be a tremendous boost for the Bucs' offense.

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Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The Las Vegas Raiders with Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly were among the teams with some level of interest in signing Tom Brady in NFL free agency, but the Silver and Black ultimately decided to stick with Derek Carr as its starting quarterback.

Carr shouldn't be too comfortable, though.

Despite making the most of a tough situation in 2019 during which the Raiders lacked skill and depth at many offensive positions, Carr's job doesn't appear to be safe. For example, the Raiders signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota in free agency, and he has several seasons of starting experience.

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NBC Sports Bay Area's Raiders insider Scott Bair recently spoke to our Patriots insider Phil Perry, and one of the topics centered around Carr's future and if he can once again perform at the level of a top-tier quarterback.

"Actions speak louder than words, and (head coach) Jon Gruden and (general manager) Mike Mayock at the combine and all these different places, they say the right things -- Derek Carr is their guy," Bair said. "But then, they're constantly flirting with Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, and they sign Marcus Mariota to a deal that could evolve into paying him starter money should he take over that job. Those actions don't say (Carr is their guy).

"I've seen every professional snap that Derek Carr has ever taken. I've seen every practice rep that I've been allowed to see, and I may be in the minority, but this is a guy I believe can be an upper-tier NFL quarterback. He can make every throw, and if you go back to 2016 when he had a loaded offensive line and lots of good skill players, he finished third in MVP voting despite the fact he broke his leg in Week 16. I know that's in there. Now, Raiders fans don't believe me, the national media doesn't believe me, but I think the stage is set for him to have a career year and find that 2016 form yet again, that most fans think is lost forever."

One defense Carr will go up against in 2020 is the New England Patriots.

The Raiders are scheduled to visit Gillette Stadium on Sept. 27 for a Week 3 matchup, and they currently are underdogs by almost a touchdown, according to oddsmakers. Bair thinks the matchup is closer than the betting lines would suggest.

"I would definitely hammer the Raiders pretty hard right there," Bair said. "I just think they're going to have a lot of explosive firepower, and when there's uncertainty at quarterback, (the more explosive team) seems to be a safer bet. Maybe you know better than I do exactly how (the Patriots') quarterback situation is shaping up, but if there are major questions marks there, I would go with the more established quarterback, the more established offense. Again, (the Raiders) are going to be able to score in bunches, and I think they're going to be pretty excited to come to Foxboro and finally get a win, even if Brady isn't there."

The Raiders and Patriots both face a bit of uncertainty at quarterback entering the 2020 season, and whichever coach is able to surround his young QB with the best system and the right talent will put his team in a strong position to reach the playoffs. The Patriots haven't missed the postseason since 2008, while the Raiders have made only one appearance since 2002.

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

Rob Ninkovich sounded drunkovich when he spoke of Brian Hoyer starting Week 1 for the Patriots.

Get that man a breathalyzer. Stat.

And if Nink turns out to be right, get Bill Belichick one too. 

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I have said this before — and I will say it again: I will not watch one down of Brian Hoyer under center for the Patriots.

And you shouldn’t either!

Don’t be a sucker. Really, you’re going to waste your time watching a guy who has started 25 games in 11 seasons in the NFL?

He may be a nice guy, good at carrying a clipboard and ridding Tom Brady of his insecurities, but he is a lousy quarterback. Patriot fans deserve better.

Going from Tom Brady to Brian Hoyer is cold turkey to the extreme. I can feel the cotton mouth, cold sweats and shakes coming on already. 

Does Bill Belichick expect you to accept Brian Hoyer as a starter? If he does, it should piss you off. 

If Hoyer does get the call you can still watch some of the game. I plan to. When the Patriots are on offense I will switch to the other game or Red Zone, and when I see on my phone that the Pats are back on defense, I will switch back over and watch Gilmore, Hightower and the McCourtys do their thing. 

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.