Patriots

Tedy Bruschi gives his prediction on where Tom Brady will play next season

Tedy Bruschi gives his prediction on where Tom Brady will play next season

It's hard to fathom Tom Brady playing for an NFL team not named the New England Patriots, but it's a possibility with the 42-year-old quarterback's contract expiring in March.

Brady and the Patriots could come to an agreement on a new deal before that point, but he does have the ability for the first time in his career to test the open market as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

One of Brady's former teammates, Tedy Bruschi, was asked to predict on Wednesday's episode of "NFL Live" on ESPN where the six-time Super Bowl champion will play in the 2020 season. The former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN NFL analyst predicted Brady will return to Foxboro.

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Check out his take in the video below.

For what it's worth, DraftKings has pegged the Patriots as -335 betting favorites to be the team Brady plays for in Week 1 next season.

Many other players, both active and retired, have weighed in on Brady's future.

Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu hopes Brady takes his talents to the NFC. Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward also is hoping Brady leaves the Patriots because "he's terrorized the AFC enough." 

But perhaps the most interesting take on Brady's future came from San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana. The Hall of Fame quarterback's advice for Brady was to not leave the Patriots. He stressed that transitioning to a new team is not an easy task.

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Wes Welker pushes back on merits of Bill Belichick's Patriots system

Wes Welker pushes back on merits of Bill Belichick's Patriots system

Just because Wes Welker played his best football in New England doesn't mean he enjoyed his Patriots experience more than any other.

The former Patriots wide receiver, now the San Francisco 49ers' wide receivers coach, admitted Wednesday he felt a weight was lifted off his shoulders when he left New England in 2012.

"Maybe a little bit," Welker told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "I was still upset about it. I did want to be there, but there was part of me — I just like enjoying the game. I like having fun, all those things."

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Head coach Bill Belichick has established an unparalleled system of success in New England, but the "Patriot Way" can be demanding on players and isn't for everyone.

Now that Welker is in the coaching world -- he began as an offensive assistant for the Houston Texans in 2017 and joined the 49ers in 2019 -- he believes there's room for players to enjoy themselves while staying committed to winning.

"Coaching now, you learn a lot from the tactics and different things like that, but at the same time putting your own twist on it and understanding — I tell my guys all the time: ‘As long as we’re giving great effort and we’re on top of our assignments we’re going to be good. Once it’s not where we need to be, that is when we have problems,' " Welker said.

"I feel like you’re playing your best ball when you’re having fun and enjoying (yourself)."

Welker put up historic numbers with the Patriots, racking up 672 receptions over six seasons. He didn't always see eye-to-eye with Belichick, though -- remember the fallout from that "foot" press conference? -- and said Wednesday his New England tenure had some bumps along the way.

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“I think there were some times where I didn’t really feel that at times for different reasons — the guys that we had in the locker room, the camaraderie that we had was better some years than others," Welker said. 

" ... When you’re one of the highest-paid players on the team, you’re expected to deliver like a highly-paid player. There’s definitely pressure on that and all these different things is tough and it’s hard. Coach Belichick is hard on guys and tries to get the most out of him that he can."

Welker said in the same interview he wasn't surprised Tom Brady left the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

Welker believes Brady was motivated by a desire to prove he can succeed outside New England, but it's not a stretch to think Welker sympathized with Brady for wanting a fresh start after 20 years with Belichick.

"The way he goes about it is there are no superstars," Welker added of Belichick. "Everybody has their role on that team. Everybody is going to get called out. There’s no preferential treatment, and a lot of times he calls out the star players just to set the tone with the whole team."

Belichick's system obviously has reaped enormous benefits, but Welker apparently leans more Lane Johnson than Matthew Slater in his opinion of it.

Wes Welker hints at why he believes Tom Brady left Patriots for Bucs

Wes Welker hints at why he believes Tom Brady left Patriots for Bucs

Two camps have emerged amid the reaction to Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots: Those who were shocked to see him go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and those who saw his exit coming.

You can put Wes Welker in the latter camp.

The current San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach and former Patriots wideout admitted Wednesday he was "not necessarily" surprised by Brady joining the Bucs in free agency after 20 seasons in New England.

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"You kind of hate to see it just because he’s been there for so long," Welker told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "It's going to be strange seeing him in a different uniform and all those things, but I wouldn’t say I was surprised."

Why not, you ask? Welker, who caught 672 passes from Brady over six seasons with the Patriots, sincerely believes the 42-year-old wanted a new challenge.

"I'm excited for him to see something else, to see something new and different things like that, as a friend," Welker said. "As a fan, you kind of hate to see it."

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When asked if he thought Brady was upset about not finishing his career as a Patriot, Welker reiterated his point.

"I think he’s just excited to play football. Tom just wants to play ball," Welker said. "He’s got some weapons down there in Tampa. 

" ... It’s another challenge for him in his mind, I'm sure, of proving people wrong. He doesn't have to be in New England to be great. And he's going to take on that challenge, and I guarantee you he's going to be full steam ahead with it."

Many believe Brady left the Patriots in part to prove he can find success without head coach Bill Belichick, who won six Super Bowls with the former sixth-round draft pick.

Welker clearly subscribes to that theory, which carries weight considering how well he knows his former QB.

Welker's 49ers reportedly were in the running to land Brady in free agency and have him replace his former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. Welker insisted San Francisco is fully behind Jimmy G, though.

"I don’t think it was a very tough decision," Welker said, "I don't know personally; you'd have to ask (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and (general manager) John (Lynch) about what their thoughts were. But they, as do I, feel very strongly about Jimmy and what he brings to our team. Last year was the first year he played a whole season, so he’s only going to get better."