While his one-time successor as New England Patriots quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, appeared on the brink of leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, Tom Brady faced rumors that he will leave the Patriots in 2020 and wind up in Las Vegas with that city’s new NFL team, the Raiders. The rumors were fueled by Brady’s attendance at a UFC event in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Brady showed up at the UFC 246 event, headlined by a bout between Conor McGregor and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, which McGregor won by technical knockout just 40 seconds into the fight. But perhaps the biggest news of the night was made in the crowd, where Brady was spotted in conversation with Raiders owner Mark Davis, as reported by Fox News.
The content of that conversation remains unknown, but in March when his Patriots contract voids, Brady is set to enter free agency for the first time in his 20-year career — all of which has been spent with New England, who picked him in the sixth round, 199th overall, in the 2000 NFL draft.
New England traded Garoppolo to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season, a move that appeared “out of character” for Head Coach Bill Belichick, as a MassLive report noted. Garoppolo went on to win his first five games with the 49ers, a team that had a dismal, 1-10 record in that season before the former Patriot arrived.
Raiders owner Mark Davis and free agent-to-be Tom Brady were in the same building Saturday night. Patriots fan Dana White reacted to the presence of the two NFL personalities at UFC 246. pic.twitter.com/Cz0EOLyOXD— NESN (@NESN) January 19, 2020
According to the Fox News report on Sunday, UFC President Dana White — a native of New England who is is said to have at least some level of friendship with Brady, said on Saturday that he believes the report that Brady could sign with the Raiders “has legs.”
The Raiders will play at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas beginning in the 2020 season.
But earlier rumors have also linked Brady to the Los Angeles Chargers, who not only move into a new stadium starting in 2020 but will also likely lose their own longtime quarterback, Philip Rivers, to free agency as well.
Brady grew up in San Mateo, California, which is about 370 miles north of Los Angeles, and roughly 550 miles west of Las Vegas — meaning that relocating from New England to either city would place Brady just a short plane flight from his family home.
Brady himself has given very little indication of where he hopes to play in 2020 — whether that would be New England or anywhere else. But in an interview on Sunday, as quoted by The Boston Globe, Brady affirmed that he hopes to play in the NFL in 2020, at the age of 43.
“I’m open-minded about the process,” Brady said in the interview.
“I love playing football and I want to continue to play and do a great job.”
The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback also said that whatever his fate holds in 2020, “I’ll embrace it with open arms.”