Tom Brady, the six-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Super Bowl MVP, is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency this March. After announcing on Instagram Wednesday that he will return for his 21st season, speculation about where he'll play next year is about to ratchet up.
The most likely scenario is that Brady will return to the Patriots. Assuming New England adds more weapons on offense (why wouldn't they?), there's no reason for Brady to leave. But he did say in his post that he still has more to prove, and maybe it'll take playing in a new city to accomplish that goal.
If Brady decides to test free agency, he'll have his suitors even after one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. Brady completed 60.8% of his passes for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2019. It was his lowest completion percentage since 2013 and his fewest touchdown passes since 2003.
The sad reality for Bears fans is that Brady's down year would still be a record-setting season for a Chicago QB. No Bears quarterback has ever thrown for 4,000 yards in a single season; Brady would have set Chicago's single-season passing record in what's been almost universally described as one of the worst 16-game stretches of his career.
So will the Bears ring Brady's phone once free agency kicks off?
According to the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, Brady will listen if they do.
"I think Tom would be agreeable to listening," Shaughnessy told David Kaplan Wednesday on ESPN 1000's Kap and Company. "If the Patriots don't take care of business then those situations are good. The TB12 brand, he's the best advertiser if he wants this to be a global entity -- if he can show that he can play NFL quarterback at 45. That's the promotional aspect of spreading the brand. If I were him, I would've retired last year. The confetti was falling on my head. Just won another Super Bowl. You're 41. It would've been the perfect time to walk off. That hasn't happened. Doesn't feel like it's going to happen. Chicago's as good as the Chargers or Dolphins. Maybe better."
It's hard not to get excited about the prospect of Brady under center at Soldier Field leading a Bears team with superstar defenders like Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson on the other side of the ball. And let's not forget how much better Brady would make wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back David Montgomery. Both Robinson and Montgomery profile as skill players with higher upsides than anyone currently on the Patriots' offense.
But remember: There's a business side of all this. And unless GM Ryan Pace can figure out how to structure a contract that's likely to pay Brady upward of $30 million per season, it ain't happening.
Or will it?Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.