Corrections and Clarifications: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the first day NFL teams could talk to free agents from other teams. It was March 16.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady pitched himself to the team in a way that made their own sales pitch less essential.
Licht said he and coach Bruce Arians spoke to Brady on March 18 and quickly realized they were on the reverse end of what they initially expected.
“We had a great conversation — Bruce and I — we talked to (Brady) for over an hour and a half,” Licht recalled Monday during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up! “And he made it clear in the conversation that he was very, very interested. It was almost like a recruitment on his part, telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay. The next call we made, we signed him, but it was at that phone call that we realized, that we felt like we had him.”
Brady spent his first 20 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots before leaving the franchise for Tampa Bay. Licht noted of the 42-year-old Brady, who turns 43 in August: “We feel like he could still play for over two years for us, and hopefully that’s the case.”
Licht said despite Brady’s statistical declines in 2019, he expects that to change under a creative coach like Arians and wide receivers receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at his disposal in 2020.
“The tape showed to us that (Brady) had plenty of arm. In fact, we thought that he had an ideal arm for Bruce in his system,” Licht said. “He can still throw it deep. We felt like the mobility was still the same as he’s always had, which, he’s never been able to outrun anybody. But he certainly is good in the pocket in terms of eluding pressure and with his poise and his instincts. We did not see a decline in his arm talent whatsoever.”