You’ll have to excuse the click-bait headline and the dramatics right out of the gate.
But can you really blame me for thinking that Tom Brady, a man who has likely already seen his best days and will be 43 by the time he plays another meaningful down, is worth more to his new team, the Buccaneers, than Ben Roethlisberger, a quarterback who won’t be 39 until weeks after Super Bowl LV, has always been to his current team, the Steelers?
By simply signing Brady, along with acquiring Rob Gronkowski, the once totally beaten into submission tight end who retired after the 2018 season but was coaxed off the couch by TB12, Tampa Bay is already one of the favorites to win Super Bowl LV.
As for Pittsburgh, despite the presumed return of Roethlisberger, who missed most of 2019 after undergoing major elbow surgery, the best it can do is the middle of the pack. Who has better odds? How about the Colts, a team that just signed 38-year old Philip Rivers, a quarterback who never met a Super Bowl he wanted to attend while playing his prime years for the Chargers. I would have also accepted the New England Patriots, whose new A.D. Brady quarterback is named Jarrett Stidham, a newbie with a career stat-line—two completions in four attempts for 14 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception—that may actually embolden Mason Rudolph to troll him on Twitter.
What about those all-important to the ratings prime-time affairs? I’m talking about the five-star match-ups the Steelers are always a part of because they’re in them? The Steelers, a team that had five original night games scheduled before the 2019 season, and a flexed one added later in the year when Roethlisberger was already long-gone, only has four this season. That’s right, the team with the national following, the team with the returning franchise quarterback, the team that generated excellent prime-time ratings for NBC last December with Devlin Hodges as its quarterback, the team that should actually be a contender this year if Roethlisberger is healthy, the team that almost always gets the maximum number of five prime-time games, only gets four.
As for the Buccaneers, a team that only had the mandated Thursday Night Football prime-time match-up in 2019, they get five. That’s right, the networks think America is willing to tune in to see the Bucs five times in 2020, provided—and I’m only assuming this—there are enough close-up shots of Brady screaming at his teammates to “Let’s Go!!!!!”
You ask your typical national expert what he or she thinks of Brady, who is closer to 45 than he is to 40, going to a new team with a new system, they like his chances.
As for what they think of Roethlisberger, again, still in his late-30s, returning to his old team with the familiar offensive system and the fresh out of the box dominant defense? That’s worth 10 wins.....maybe. Not only that, but they were pleading with Pittsburgh to sign Jameis Winston or (and this could hurt) Andy Dalton just in case Big Ben gets another big boo-boo.
To sum it up, the 2020 Buccaneers with 43-year old Tom Brady under center: Super Bowl contenders. The 2020 Steelers with 38-year old Ben Roethlisberger returning to his old team with a clean bill of health: Meh.
So there you have it. Stay tuned for next offseason’s edition of this article, when I tell you how much more valuable the Jaguars are than the Steelers after Aaron Rodgers moves to Jacksonville.