By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout this monthslong, stomach-churning, mysterious saga known as The Tom Brady Offseason Of 2020, an incalculable number of possibilities have been seriously considered regarding the fate of the greatest quarterback of all time. The Titans, almost unanimously, make football sense. The 49ers logo would look beautiful on the side of Brady’s helmet. Brady in a Raiders get-up would not look altogether wrong.

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But the Bucs? In Tampa? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Call me naive, call me ignorant, call me a bozo if you must. But I can’t ever see that happening.

It’s relevant now after Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (no relation to The TB Times) reported that the Buccaneers “are going all in for Tom Brady.”

Stroud explained the pursuit thusly:

If we reach the legal free-agent tampering period Monday at noon and Brady is behind Door No. 2, Bruce Arians and the Glazer family will try to kick that sucker down for Touchdown Tommy.

This is not hype. It’s hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs’ play.

The Bucs are all in on Brady.

Super Bowl 55 is in Tampa. The Bucs and Brady want to get there. Why not do it together?


But no.

Obviously, the Buccaneers have some appealing aspects. Namely, Mike Evans. Additionally, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. Ronald Jones, maybe. I guess.


But they’re still the Buccaneers, a team that went 7-9 a year ago, and 5-11 for each of the two seasons before that. They’re the Buccaneers, who ranked 29th in scoring defense last year, and 31st the year before that. They’re the Buccaneers, who have not won a playoff game since six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady was merely a one-time Super Bowl winner.

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They are, quite simply, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The interest from their side is obvious. Jameis Winston quite majestically became the NFL’s first 30-30 man last year, throwing 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Seven of those were pick-sixes, which is equally unbelievable. If you go back in time and turn those 30 interceptions, into, say, nine interceptions, and if you cut those seven pick-sixes down to roughly zero pick-sixes, then head coach Bruce Arians probably believes his team could have easily gone 11-5 and made the playoffs.

Why wouldn’t the Bucs make a strong push for Brady, you know?

At the same time, why should Brady care about any of that?

At this point of his career, Brady should be selecting the best situation for him. He should not feel compelled to select the best situation for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He should have little interest in moving to central Florida to try to be the savior for a franchise that has not played in a playoff game since 2007, for a head coach who owns a 22-25-1 record over his last three years and a 1-2 career playoff record.

Short of offering Brady $50 million a year plus an ownership stake plus a fast track to the mayoral seat in St. Pete, none of that should be appealing for Brady.

(Tampa is also the only location where Brady’s been seen wearing the “color rush” combo of white pants and a white jersey, which looked like underwear. That’s not the most important factor, no. But it’s not not the most important factor.)

While at this point, just about everyone has come around on the real possibility of Brady wearing a different team’s jersey for the first time since his Michigan days, the idea of Brady resigning himself to a life in Tampa for the next two years is … borderline depressing. If going to the west coast of Florida and playing in front of a pirate ship really represents Brady’s best option? Then the NFL has failed Brady.

And really, so have the Patriots.

While Brady’s numbers surely stunk last season, they weren’t produced in a vacuum. The offensive line had a backup at center all season, except for the game where a third-stringer got the start. For half the year, Brady’s blind side was protected by a free agent signed off the street in Week 2. The tight end spot was a black hole. The fullback busted his neck; the backup fullback went to IR with a shoulder injury. Undrafted rookies Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski were asked to contribute at receiver. First-round pick N’Keal Harry missed half the year and never looked comfortable in the offense. Josh Gordon didn’t work out. Mohamed Sanu was injured and thus not particularly special.

It was a bad year for the Patriots’ offense. But the quarterback was not their problem. (There’s a ton of video evidence here, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.)

While there are always various considerations to factor in — like the salary cap, the long-term planning, the larger picture of roster building, etc. — it would still be wild for the Patriots to essentially say “thanks but no thanks” to the most important player in franchise history.

And if that decision then relegated him to … the Buccaneers? Woof. That would be a real “life comes at you fast” moment for Brady, for the league, and for all of us.

That is to say that if Brady does indeed find himself standing at a podium in Tampa in the coming weeks, forcing a smile alongside a beaming Arians and a delighted Jason Licht and an over-the-moon member of the Glazer family, then his relationship with Bill Belichick and the Patriots broke down more deeply than any of us ever knew.

Tom Brady. Tampa. Outside of the Buccaneers organization, that’s a worst-case scenario for everyone.

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Tom Brady in Tampa. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.