TAMPA, Fla. — It didn’t take much of a sales pitch from general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians to bring Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In fact, it was Brady who did most of the talking.
Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up on Monday, Licht told Mike Greenberg that in their first phone call with Brady on the first day of free agency — March 18 — Brady was actually the one selling them on why he should go to Tampa Bay. Prior to that time, during the legal tampering period, teams were only able to talk to player agents to get a feel for interest.
“We had a great conversation — Bruce and I — we talked to him for over an hour and a half. And he made it clear in the conversation that he was very, very interested,” Licht said. “It was almost like a recruitment on his part, telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay. The next call we made, we signed him, but it was at that phone call that we realized, that we felt like we had him.”
Not that a Brady sales pitch was needed. Early on, Arians and Licht had already identified Brady as their top quarterback option, should he become available. But at that time, it felt more like a dream scenario. So much so that at the NFL combine in February, when Arians was asked if there was one quarterback he’d pick up the phone for, he chuckled and said, “Tom Brady.”
Despite the fact that the Bucs haven’t been to the postseason since 2007, Tampa Bay made sense to Brady for a multiple reasons: the ability to collaborate with a fun coach like Arians, the weapons in receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and being on the East Coast with its proximity to family in New York.
Neither Licht nor Arians believe that Brady’s arm is declining at age 42, despite what many would consider a down year for him in New England.
“The tape showed to us that he had plenty of arm. In fact, we thought that he had an ideal arm for Bruce in his system,” Licht said, referring to Arians’ affinity for taking shots downfield. “He can still throw it deep. We felt like the mobility was still the same as he’s always had, which, he’s never been able to outrun anybody. But he certainly is good in the pocket in terms of eluding pressure and with his poise and his instincts. We did not see a decline in his arm talent whatsoever. And, in fact, we feel like he could still play for over two years for us, and hopefully that’s the case.”
Licht was also asked about Arians’ strong comments about wide receiver Antonio Brown last week, when he said of a potential signing, “Yeah, it’s not gonna happen. There’s no room. And probably not enough money. But it’s not gonna happen — it’s not a fit here. … It’s not a fit in our locker room.”
“We feel like there’s a lot of teams that are struggling to find one really good receiver. And we have two really outstanding receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin,” Licht said Monday. “Right now, there is only so much money that can go around. There are no plans to sign any other receiver at this time. Antonio is somebody that Bruce has come out and had some words about, and Bruce knows him better than all of us. So right now, I would just say that we’re focused on other areas of our team.”