Tom Brady is gone, off to the Bucs after they were one of two (2) teams to try to sign him in free agency.
It's probably not a leap to think that between the lack of negotiations and the general wear and tear on a relationship that 20 years takes, Brady and the Pats aren't feeling super lovey-dovey about each other right now. The wound is still fresh, but it will undoubtedly heal down the road.
Know what probably wouldn't help, though? The Patriots getting Deshaun Watson.
If you didn't see over the weekend, Watson was listed as the betting favorite to be the Week 1 starter for the Patriots in the 2021 season. Watson, one of the best QBs in the league, realistically has two years left on his deal, considering his contract holds a fifth-year team option.
The Texans, however, are idiots. After they traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for a song, it's not far-fetched to imagine Watson will either want out or the team will be too stupid to do everything to keep him.
Here's what's particularly interesting, though. If Watson finds his way to New England, it would likely mean the Patriots did something with him they wouldn't with Brady for so many years: Pay through the nose for him. Imagine being Brady, experiencing years and years of taking less, then seeing Kraft and Belichick race to pay another guy top QB money?
Ooh, he'd lose it.
The Patriots should do it if they can, of course. Watson is 24 and is already one of the best players in the league. It might be tough for Brady to hear, but it's far more logical to throw money at a less accomplished quarterback in his mid-20s than it is to pay the most decorated quarterback at the end of his career.
When Watson and Patrick Mahomes sign new contracts (they are both entering the fourth year of their likely five-year contracts), they will be the two highest-paid players in the league. And if the Patriots are lucky enough to be the team paying Watson top-two money, they should jump at it.
That's about as big an "if" as it gets, though, as it's accompanied by a "how." How could the Patriots get Watson? After all, the Texans traded an extra first-round pick to move up to take Watson in 2017. They then traded two first-round picks, a second and more to get him a left tackle in Laremy Tunsil. So would they really pull the plug with so much invested in Watson?
Well, look at it this way: Maybe if and when the Texans ever get a proper GM, he'll want draft picks, which the Texans don't currently have. The Patriots could throw picks in the early rounds at Houston (and there'd need to be a lot of them) to get Watson out of there, then extend him for a ton of money.
This would be a far cry from how they got their last great quarterback, but then again, drafting the best quarterback of all time in the sixth round and get him to play at a discount for most of his career is kind of a pipe dream. Life without prime Brady is a "welcome to being the rest of the league" experience. And the rest of the league generally gets their star quarterbacks at the top of the draft or by paying dearly for them.
So play it out this season with Jarrett Stidham. See what you've got with him and whoever you have on offense (hopefully a good, young receiver is added in the draft; perhaps Brady being gone will help receivers adjust in New England). If Stidham doesn't look promising, call the Texans. Swing for the fences, back up the Brinks truck. Do what you can to get him, even if it's the exact opposite of what you've had to do the last 20 years.