Watch CBS News

Making the case for Tom Brady to join the New York Jets

Sports Final: Would Tom Brady return to Patriots next season?
Sports Final: Would Tom Brady return to Patriots next season? 04:08

With Tom Brady becoming a free agent for just the second time in his 5,000-year career, it's time to seriously consider what the quarterback might do in 2023. That is, provided the quarterback who will turn 46 years old this summer decides to continue his fight against Father Time by playing in his 24th NFL season. Each day, we'll explore one possible option for Brady. Yesterday, it was the Las Vegas Raiders. Today, it's the New York Jets.

BOSTON -- Can you imagine it?

An early Sunday evening in September. Tens of thousands of Patriots fans entering Gillette Stadium early. All eyes on the tunnel in the southeast corner of the field. Emerging from the shadows to warm up with his team ... Tom Brady, decked head to toe in Gotham Green, wearing Joe Namath's unretired No. 12?

Maybe you can. The shock value of Brady wearing a different jersey has certainly dissipated over the past three seasons. So why not go all in on the alternate universe and envision Brady playing for the former bitter rivals of his former team?

The Case For

After adding some impressive young talent last year, the Jets are close to being just a quarterback away from real playoff viability. 

It wouldn't be hard to make the case that the Jets would have swept the Patriots last year if anyone except Zach Wilson was playing quarterback. Breece Hall was electric prior to his injury. Garrett Wilson put up 1,100 yards as a rookie (with no real quarterback). Sauce Gardner played like an instant No. 1 cornerback. Quinnen Williams was a monster.

There's a lot to like about the Jets' roster. Except at quarterback.

It's why, when trying to make a list of teams that might want to take a run at a 46-year-old even if it's just for one year, the Jets land on the short list.

With the potential return of a healthy Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, the offensive line is capable of protecting him. And the Jets' defense -- which ranked fourth in yards and points allowed last season -- is good enough to win some football games.

There's also plenty of appeal from Brady's perspective in terms of growing his off-field businesses, as that New York metropolitan area has quite a few potential customers living inside of it. A whole lot of people. (One of those people is his oldest son, which could be another draw to the area.)

Brady could also play hero to a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since the 2010 season. When he joined the Bucs in 2020, they hadn't won a playoff game since 2002. Perhaps there's an appeal to swoop in and "save the day," thus bolstering his impenetrable legacy even further. If he can win in Tampa and if he can win with the Jets? Then there's truly nothing he can't do.

The Case Against

Well, there is the whole matter of Brady hating the Jets. How do we know he hates the Jets? Because one time he said, "I hate the Jets."

Fair enough.

But have things changed? Three years away from a division rival can soften one's feelings, especially if job options are limited. 

From the Jets' perspective, signing Brady would confirm what everybody can surmise on their own: Zach Wilson isn't very good. That might be obvious to most, but it will be difficult for Joe Douglas and the front office to publicly admit, after spending the No. 2 overall pick on the kid just two years ago. Generally, only executives with tremendous job security would make such a move. And typically, the GM of the Jets doesn't have tremendous job security.

And from Brady's side, for as much as there may be business opportunities in New York ... signing with the Jets (and possibly beating the Patriots twice) would further alienate him from his former fans in New England. Many of those people stuck by him through his Tampa phase, but that was Tampa. Signing with the Jets would convert some of those holdover fans to Brady haters -- and non-TB12 customers.

Plus, despite all of the positives of the roster, there's got to be an internal debate within Brady if it really came down to it. Do I really want to play another season ... with the Jets? He said he's kind of out on cold weather forever. Doubling down on the cold with the Jetsiness of the Jets might be a bridge too far.

Jets fans might not love it, either. They've seen Brady beat their team 31 times. That has a cumulative effect after a while. And getting him at age 46 runs the risk of not going too well. It may be a tougher pitch to the fan base than it may seem on the surface.

The Verdict

Football-wise, the Jets are ... kind of appealing. It's just there's slightly more involved with this one, making a Gang Green TB12 season feel like one of the longer long shots on the board.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.