After a disappointing 6-10 season that ended with the firing of first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens, could the Cleveland Browns temporarily move on from former No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield and welcome Tom Brady as their new starting quarterback? As suggested in a new report from USA Today, the Browns may indeed be one of the more "sensible" destinations for the six-time Super Bowl winner, in the event he decides to keep playing and opts to leave the New England Patriots in free agency this spring.
In a story published on Tuesday morning, USA Today's Nate Davis mentioned the Browns as a possible suitor for Brady, noting that the chances of the 42-year-old playing for Cleveland could increase if the team hires Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as Kitchens' replacement. Although he stressed that the jury is still out on Mayfield despite the challenges he faced in his sophomore campaign, Davis predicted that Brady might be the best person to lead the Browns to success after more than two decades of futility.
In addition to the possibility that Brady could temporarily supplant Mayfield behind center, Davis wrote that if he gets traded to Cleveland, the former sixth-round pick out of Michigan would have a chance to prove he could win without longtime Patriots head coach Bill Belichick — and even lead the Browns to a championship.Aside from the Browns, Davis also listed five other teams as possible landing spots for Brady in free agency. These include the Carolina Panthers, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints, and the Tennessee Titans. As noted, the Panthers are also among the organizations interested in hiring McDaniels, while the Dolphins are coached by longtime Patriots assistant Brian Flores. The Titans, meanwhile, beat New England in their AFC wild-card game on Saturday, with former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel leading the way as head coach.
USA Today is not the only source to list the Browns as one of the top favorites to land Brady — assuming he tests the free agency waters. According to Sports Illustrated, the oddsmakers at BetOnline currently have Cleveland as the No. 1 most likely option for the future Hall of Fame quarterback outside of the Patriots, with an 11/2 chance of signing him, followed by the Panthers, Chargers, and the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders, who are tied at second with 6/1 odds. BetOnline's most likely scenario, however, still has Brady returning to New England later this year to play at least one more season.