The NFL will look a whole lot different in 2020. For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady won’t be the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots. Instead, he’ll be under center for the Buccaneers after reportedly agreeing to sign a contract with Tampa Bay that will pay him north of $30 million per season.
The impact on the NFC and the NFL, in general, is obvious. The Buccaneers, who already have a quality defense and star-studded cast of skill players on offense, instantly become a Super Bowl contender. The Patriots, on the other hand, face a season of uncertainty for the first time in two decades.
But next year’s regular season and playoff landscape won’t be the only things impacted by Brady heading to Tampa Bay. The first round of the 2020 NFL draft will be affected, too.
Take the Chargers, for example. Los Angeles was reportedly in the mix for Brady and had they signed him, the Chargers would’ve been out of the first-round quarterback mix. Now, with Tyrod Taylor the only viable quarterback on the roster, Oregon’s Justin Herbert is back in play for the sixth overall pick. Los Angeles would likely prefer to use that selection on an offensive tackle; now, they may have no choice but to draft a quarterback.
There’s also the Patriots, who haven’t been in the first-round quarterback market for decades. New England will add a veteran at some point over the next few days, but they could choose to utilize the 23rd pick on a prospect like Utah State’s Jordan Love.
And let’s circle back to the Buccaneers for a second. There were rumblings that they could use the 14th pick on a quarterback, depending on who they landed in free agency, and if they ended up with a player like Case Keenum or another second-tier veteran, a first-rounder would’ve been in play. That’s now ancient history, which means an offensive tackle is a near-certainty in Round 1 for Tampa Bay.
We know this much: Joe Burrow will be the first overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa is a likely top-five pick, and Herbert won’t be far behind. Love has first-round ability while Jacob Eason and Jalen Hurts have a chance to be targeted by quarterback-needy teams looking to trade back into the end of the first round to secure the valuable fifth-year option.
But as more teams fill their quarterback void in free agency (the Panthers agreed to terms with Teddy Bridgewater, for example), the less likely we’ll see more than three quarterbacks picked in the top-32.
The Buccaneers are out of the quarterback market. The Patriots are in. If the Patriots don’t trade up, then a quarterback slide begins at No. 14 (down to 23). And if New England doesn’t pull the trigger on one in Round 1, there will be a few teams at the top of the second round who will be enriched by an unexpected quarterback falling into their laps.