Which NFL team passed on Tom Brady?

The Saints were apparently this close to signing Tom Brady.

On Monday, the Buccaneers quarterback stunned fans when he dubbed an unnamed QB a “mother-f–ker” while revealing a mystery team passed on him in free agency.

The cryptic comment, which TB12 made in a preview for Friday’s episode of “The Shop” on HBO Max, sparked a search into who and which team Brady was referring to. One insider’s answer came as a shock.

“I’m gonna say it as clear as day: it’s the New Orleans Saints,” NFL reporter Jeff Darlington said on Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s “Get Up.”

“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.”

Brees announced his retirement in March after the 2020-21 season, revealing he will transition into the broadcast world as an analyst for NBC Sports. He served as quarterback in New Orleans for 15 years, but his legendary Saints career almost ended a year early.

“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,” Darlington said. “I know that that’s gonna be a statement people try to question. It’s the truth.”

Tom Brady was reportedly close to signing with the Bucs' division rival Saints.
Tom Brady was reportedly close to signing with the Bucs’ division rival Saints.
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Brady ultimately signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Buccaneers in March 2020, after 20 years in New England under coach Bill Belichick. Together, the longtime duo won six Super Bowls.

In his first year as Tampa Bay’s quarterback, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring and earned his fifth Super Bowl MVP. The Buccaneers extended Brady’s contract in March to keep the 43-year-old through the 2022 season, allowing flexibility for Tampa Bay to return every starter from their championship roster.

Meanwhile, the quarterback situation in New Orleans is up in the air following Brees’ retirement.

“Here’s the deal: [Saints head coach] 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 have him for a few more years moving forward. No question in my mind,” Darlington said.

Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are likely to compete for the Saints' starting QB job.
Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are likely to compete for the Saints’ starting QB job.
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“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.”

It’s unclear who will replace Brees, though Payton has maintained that he believes the Saints have a quarterback on the roster already. As of right now, it appears to be a competition between Brees’ backups from 2020, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston.  

Earlier this month, Payton said he plans to build the Saints’ offense around whoever wins the starting quarterback spot.

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