Tom Brady's decision to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers means he'll now compete against a new division: the NFC South.
Brady spent the first 20 years of his career with the New England Patriots, and he dominated the AFC East with an 86-22 regular-season record versus the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. The Patriots won the AFC East title in 18 of the 19 full seasons Brady played in New England.
The NFC South won't be a walk in the park for the Buccaneers, and one of the challenges for Brady the next few months will be learning the teams, players and coaches on his new division rivals.
“It’s a good division with good quarterbacks, very good offenses and very athletic defenses, too," Brady said on a media conference call Tuesday. "Winning the division is always the hard thing to do. These teams know each other so well and I didn’t play this division but once every four years, so I’ve got to learn the players, I’ve got to learn the schemes. There’s a lot of things I have to learn and get up to speed on. That’s where all my time and energy will be focused on and also learning my teammates, guys like Mike [Evans] and Chris [Godwin], O.J. [Howard], Cam [Brate]. A lot of skill players – Ronald Jones and obviously the offensive line, who is a very talented group.
"A lot of things for me to focus on and a lot of time and energy is going to be spent on getting up to speed with the tactical things of how I can do the best job for the team. Anything outside of that is really in essence not a high priority for me. Not to say things are unimportant, it’s just I’ve got to be able to prioritize my time and energy so I can learn what I need to learn and go out there and do a great job for this organization.”
The New Orleans Saints won the division at 13-3 last season, and they haven't stood pat in free agency. The Saints re-signed future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and added veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The Atlanta Falcons had a tough 2019 season, but they bolstered their offense in free agency with the signing of former All-Pro running back Todd Gurley.
The Carolina Panthers are expected to finish last in the division next season, but they just signed free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who went 5-0 for the Saints in place of an injured Brees last season. With Brady, Brees, Bridgewater and Matt Ryan starting at quarterback, the NFC South could be the highest-scoring division in football next season.
Las Vegas currently gives the Buccaneers the second-best odds to win the NFC South in 2020, which makes sense. It's hard to bet against the Saints, who've won three consecutive division titles and a total of 37 regular-season games over that span.