Tom Brady joins Tampa Bay: What now for Patriots & Bill Belichick? Jason Bell Q&A

After 20 years with the New England Patriots and a record six Super Bowl wins, Tom Brady has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The veteran quarterback's glorious partnership with coach Bill Belichick has come to an end - but what does that mean for Brady and the Patriots?

Here, former NFL cornerback and BBC pundit Jason Bell tells BBC Sport what he thinks about Brady joining the Bucs and what it's like to play against arguably the greatest of all time.

What do you think about Brady leaving the Patriots?

I wasn't shocked. He's taken team-friendly deals his entire career and, from what I was hearing, he wanted to be compensated. That's not what New England were going to do - nor could they. They have to go out and get some offensive weapons. They're restricted by the salary cap and it would be hard to go and pay a quarterback aged 42 over $30m [a year].

He had complained about his offensive weapons and receivers, but the monetary situation was probably the final straw. I don't think Bill Belichick was willing to suggest that [owner] Robert Kraft paid that much money when they have other things they need to do and address, especially on offence. You only have so many resources to deploy and when you put so much money in a quarterback - like most teams do - you suffer in other places. The Patriots just weren't in a position to. Brady knew that so he was looking to move on, and now we all get to see this wonderful thing happen. It's exciting.

So you're in that camp? Some feel it's sad Brady won't finish his career with the Patriots...

It's a great opportunity. The way the structure is set up, this is the beauty of the NFL. Because of the salary cap, because of the parity, things like this happen.

You have a dynasty that's been held together for so long, but you have constraints. Now you're seeing that because you lose your franchise quarterback, the guy that brought you all these championships. Now let's see if he can go somewhere else and be successful - and let's see what Belichick can do. Everybody's fascinated to see what these two greats can do without each other. It's a great narrative for us to watch this year.

Where do you rank Brady among the all-time greats?

He's still playing but he's the best quarterback of all time, just by what he's done already. But if he goes to Tampa Bay and does something crazy like wins a Super Bowl, you're talking about the best football player of all time, not just the best quarterback. Peyton Manning's the only one I can think of who went and won another Super Bowl [with another team]. He was really hurt but managed Denver to a Super Bowl victory [in 2016]. If Brady makes this move from the Patriots and goes on to have that kind of success with the Bucs, he'd be in that argument.

Do you think what he's achieved so far will ever be surpassed?

It's going to be very difficult, because everything's got to line up. You've got to have a coach like Bill Belichick, an owner like Robert Kraft. It's just the luck of the draw - I mean, they got the guy [Brady] in the sixth round of the draft.

I didn't think it would be possible until I saw the way Patrick Mahomes plays. He is something else - and he's just going to get better. He's got so much room to grow. I'm not going to say no, but it's going to take a situation like we have with Mahomes at Kansas City. You're going to need a young quarterback who wins the Super Bowl early in his career to equal what Tom Brady has done.

What was it like to play against Brady?

Guys like Tom and Peyton Manning, you just knew they understood everything. As a defensive player, like I was, you're always trying to disguise things, you're always trying to confuse your opposing quarterback. With maybe 70% of those guys, you could do certain things that worked like that or you knew their tendencies - if they looked a certain way, you knew what they were going to do.

But Brady knew everything going on out there. It forced you to be really disciplined and not gamble - and at times you need to take risks to win games. You had to be on your 'A' game. You knew he was watching everything you did - before and during the game. You knew you were in there with the best fighter - the one with the knockout punch.

But it kept you on your toes and it made you better as a player. You prepare hard every week, but when you play against guys like Tom Brady, something else just triggers because you know he's working so hard that you're just trying to play catch-up. You know he's already got a beat on you.

What now for the Patriots?

You think Belichick doesn't have a plan for this change? They're going to revamp this offence and make it different for the new quarterback. I don't think it's the end of an era for them - because they've got Bill Belichick. That's his team, his culture. That's what he's developed. As long as he's there, they have that infrastructure in place.

Do I think they're going to be as dominant? I don't know, I've got to see how that offence plays with the new quarterback, but they're not done. The one thing you have to do in the NFL is win your division. You do that, you get in the play-offs, and Belichick's got a beat on that division [AFC East]. Even though it's become more competitive, he's definitely got a way to win each of those games.

So I want to see how they adjust. It's going to be different to what we've seen with Tom Brady, and I can't wait to see this. It's not the Patriots of old where people would say: 'We know what they're going to do.'

Now we don't. We have no clue what they or Tampa Bay will do with this change, and that's what makes the NFL exciting.

You can watch highlights and analysis of the 2020 NFL season on The NFL Show and NFL This Week, plus follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website every Sunday of the regular season.

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