INDIANAPOLIS - Though nobody seems to know for sure, the general consensus at the NFL Scouting Combine this week is that Tom Brady will be playing somewhere other than New England this season. Maybe Las Vegas or Los Angeles, or possibly even in Tennessee.
But really, if you're a Jets fan, who cares where he goes? As long he's out of the AFC East.
No matter what the Jets do this offseason to continue the rebuilding of their team, nothing would help them more than Brady actually getting out of the division for the first time since he was drafted 20 years ago. He's been an absolute nightmare for them -- and the Dolphins and the Bills during his 19 seasons as the Patriots' starter.
So at this point, Jets head coach Adam Gase has to be rooting for someone -- anyone -- to throw a pile of cash in Brady's direction, right?
"We'll see what happens," Gase said with a slight smile.
OK, so he doesn't want to play that what-if game. And nobody wants to count out Bill Belichick and the Patriots, even if Brady heads somewhere else. Brady isn't the only reason they've won 17 division titles in the last 19 seasons, including the last 11. And Gase doesn't want to anger the football gods and jinx the Jets' chance at their first AFC East title since 2002.
But he has to know that losing the greatest quarterback of all time, even at age 42, would be a blow to the Patriots dynasty. Surely they'd be at least a little more vulnerable then.
"It's hard for me to even say anything," Gase said when he met with the media at the Combine on Tuesday. "I don't know what their team is going to look like until we start the season."
That's true. Because if Brady does leave, don't assume he'll be replaced by second-year pro Jarrett Stidham. More likely, Belichick would dip into one of the deepest pools of available quarterbacks ever. He could easily replace Brady with Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, or Teddy Bridgewater and still have something of a formidable team.
But Brady has been so important to the Patriots for so long, and he's been such a problem for the Jets in particular, that Gase must realize that a Brady departure would open everything up in the AFC East.
"It's hard," Gase said when he met with the media at the scouting combine on Tuesday. "We obviously all want to say yes, but I think one of us has to go and do it and figure out a way to jump in front of New England. It's tough because they've held onto the division for so long. We've just got to do a good job of focusing on what we have to do to make sure we're doing everything right."