NFL insider: Brady came close to signing with Saints before choosing Bucs


Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady made headlines earlier this week when one of his comments from an upcoming episode of HBO's "The Shop" was posted on YouTube ahead of its release Friday.

Brady was talking about his time as a free agent in March of 2020 after deciding to leave the New England Patriots.

"One of the teams, they weren’t interested at the very end. I was thinking, you’re sticking with that motherf-----?" Brady says in the clip.

Which team/quarterback was Brady talking about?

That remains unknown. It could be one of several teams that reportedly had interest in signing the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

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One day after Brady's remark on "The Shop" was released, ESPN did a segment on morning show "Get Up!" asking a panel which team should most regret not signing Brady last offseason. Jeff Darlington picked the Saints and explained that Brady was close to signing with New Orleans before choosing the Buccaneers.

“I’m gonna say it as clear as day: it is the New Orleans Saints,” Darlington said. “Regret might be a strong word because ultimately, Drew Brees decided to delay his broadcasting career and come back for one more season. The Saints did the right thing by bringing Brees back. But I think that people still underestimate how close Tom Brady was to signing with the New Orleans Saints up until he ultimately decided on the Bucs. I know that that’s gonna be a statement people try to question. It’s the truth.

“And here’s the deal: Sean Payton cannot look back and say, ‘Man, I would have loved to have Tom Brady last year,’ because it would also have meant that they would have him for a few more years moving forward. No question in my mind. The Saints, despite understanding they did what they had to do, there’s a little bit of, let’s call it regret, that Tom Brady is not their quarterback.”

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The differencing between the Bucs having Brady and the Saints having Drew Brees at quarterback probably cost New Orleans a championship last season.

Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl LV victory in his first season with the franchise. One of the Bucs' four playoff wins came against Brees and the Saints in the NFC Divisional Round. Tampa Bay won 30-20 in New Orleans, thanks in large part to Brees' three interceptions.

The Bucs have brought back Brady and the other 21 starters from their Super Bowl-winning team, giving them a great chance to repeat as champs during the 2021 campaign. The Saints, meanwhile, saw Brees retire and will likely replace him with veteran Jameis Winston. New Orleans' championship window has likely closed unless Winston shows he can win in the playoffs. He has zero career postseason victories.

Saints fans might wonder for a long time how the 2020 season could have played out if Brady was leading their team instead of Brees.

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