If not for a decision by Drew Brees in early 2020, Tom Brady would be playing for the New Orleans Saints right now instead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, one of the network’s top NFL reporters, appeared on the ESPN Daily podcast on Wednesday and he explained the wild story of how Brady almost joined the Saints after the 2019 season.

“I have to take you back to a time when Tom Brady had decided he was leaving the New England Patriots,” said Darlington. “The Tampa Bay Bucs were absolutely at the top of his list. But so too was another team and that was the New Orleans Saints, coached by Sean Payton. I don’t think that people give credit enough for how close Tom Brady was to playing with Sean Payton in New Orleans.”

“Had Drew Brees ended up as the Monday Night Football analyst at our network, Tom Brady would’ve ended up with the Saints. Instead, Drew Brees decides to return — during, by the way, what was an offseason of a lot of questions with Drew Brees. At one point he walked into Sean Payton’s office and said ‘I’m done, I’m retired’. It was so close to Tom Brady ending up with the Saints and Sean Payton. Their relationship was established.”

Drew Brees, TOM BRADY Saints
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Darlington’s comments about Brady almost joining the Saints come in light of the recent report that Brady and Payton almost joined forces with the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason (a plan that was apparently thwarted due to the Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL).

Brees ended up retiring after the 2020 season while Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win in his first season in Tampa.

It’s hard to imagine Brady in a Saints uniform, but according to Darlington, it was extremely close to happening two years ago.

That might be a tough pill to swallow for New Orleans fans, considering it’s almost a guarantee that Brady would’ve won a Super Bowl with the Saints.

Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports