OAKLAND, Ca. (CBS) – Tom Brady’s postseason breakout game happened against the Raiders during the 2001 playoffs in a game that included the infamous “Tuck Rule” play and Brady leading the Patriots to a come from behind victory over Oakland — the victory spearheaded the Patriots’ first of six championship runs with No. 12 under center. In a twist of irony, the next — and perhaps final — chapter of Brady’s career could be with the Raiders.
On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders will pursue Brady if he becomes a free agent when the league’s new year begins on March 18. Brady, who recently announced via social media that he does plan to play in 2020, has never been a free agent. Schefter added that the Patriots and Brady will come to a decision on their future together well before the start of free agency.
Brady recently made headlines following his trip to Las Vegas, the Raiders’ new home. In town to attend UFC 46, Brady was spotted in the crowd chatting with Raiders owner Mark Davis, who in 2018 re-hired head coach Jon Gruden, who was the losing end of the epic Raiders-Patriots 2001 playoff game.
While the Patriots will reportedly try to keep Brady, the Raiders would certainly be an interesting option for the future Hall of Fame quarterback if he and the Patriots do decide to part ways. After a 4-12 season in 2018, the Raiders showed promise in 2019, winning 6 of their first 10 games before injuries derailed the team during the last six games of the season. Oakland finished with a 7-9 record.
Despite giving up two draft picks to acquire Antonio Brown, Raiders GM Mike Mayock put together a solid 2019 draft class that included running back Josh Jacobs, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, safety Jonathan Abram, cornerback Trayvon Mullen, defensive end Maxx Crosby, receiver Hunter Renfrow and tight end Foster Moreau. Each player played a significant role in Oakland’s turnaround while offering promise for the future.
The Raiders also have several proven veterans on the offensive side of the ball in tight end Darren Waller, receiver Tyrell Williams, tackle Trent Brown and center Rodney Hudson. Brown and Hudson earned Pro Bowl honors last season, while Waller led the Raiders with 90 receptions for 1,145 yards. Williams, a 2019 free agent acquisition, caught six touchdowns while averaging 15.5 yards per catch.
Despite using six of his nine 2019 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, Mayock wants to continue to focus on his defense during the upcoming offseason.
“We have to get better on defense,” Mayock told Vic Tafur of The Athletic back in January. “We still have to fill a lot of holes. On the offensive side of the ball, obviously the wide receiver position didn’t work out as we anticipated so we have some work to do there as well.”
While their recent track record in terms of winning is a stark contrast to the Patriots’ recent run of success, the Raiders recent progress with Gruden and Mayock at the helm — along with the prospect of playing in Las Vegas — could be enough to entice Brady to become a Raider, assuming he does enter free agency 45 days from now.