Red Sox trading Mookie Betts is worse than Patriots losing Tom Brady
The case for Brady
It’s possible that Brady has meant more to the Patriots than any player has meant to their franchise in any sport. A relatively unknown sixth-round pick served as the backup for a highly-paid star quarterback until fate intervened, vaulting Brady into the driver’s seat where he told the ultimate underdog story on his way to emerging as a hero.
Brady led the Patriots to nine Super Bowl appearances in his 19 years as the starting quarterback, winning six championships. He turned New England into a perennial division-winner that failed to make the playoffs only twice under his guidance – with one of those missed opportunities coming in 2008 when a severe knee injury limited Brady to only one game.
A collection of rings that won’t fit on one hand, the impressive statistical resume and the unmatched competitive drive to win. Those traits have made Brady the greatest quarterback of all time.
Despite his advanced age, the Patriots were still viewed as a contender as long as they had the GOAT. They won their most recent championship with Brady on the wrong side of 40. While last season ended in a disappointing exit in Wild Card weekend, New England was still a playoff team. The feeling was that by restocking the weapons around him, Brady had enough left in the tank to bring his team back to the promised land one more time.
I’m not sure we can say the same for Betts. That’s not his fault considering a quarterback is more vital to his team’s success than any individual baseball player. Still, the Red Sox fell well short of their playoff aspirations with Betts last year and the outlook was gloomy for 2020 even before they traded their best player.
The Red Sox have a strong young core to build around and the financial freedom they created should allow them to retool quickly. They may not appear to be a contender now but that should change in the near future.
The Patriots are at more of a crossroads with no clear replacement at the most important position in football. Unless they can find a veteran quarterback who is adequate enough to allow New England’s elite defense to carry them back to glory (those options are rapidly dwindling), the Patriots will be forced to tear it down and rebuild through the draft. This is the end of an era.
At least the Red Sox got some young players and financial flexibility by trading Betts. All the Patriots are left with is $13.5 million in dead cap space.
Part of what makes Brady’s departure so painful is that we still don’t know where he will end up. Perhaps he’s not even sure where he’ll sign, he just knows he doesn’t want to stay here. This isn’t a Ray Bourque situation either. We aren’t watching a beloved icon leave the shambles of a rebuilding team in order to see him get the chance to win at the end of his career. The Patriots would be a contender if Brady stayed. Are we sure that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Los Angeles Chargers will be if the lands there?