Tom Brady free agency wager forging new betting frontier

LAS VEGAS — As conflicting media reports surface and curious minds search for clues, the drama surrounding Tom Brady’s next move has turned into a soap opera of sorts. It’s also a storyline fit for sports betting.

When a six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback is set to hit the NFL’s open market, why not make his decision a prop bet?

With free agency beginning March 18, a breakup between Brady and the New England Patriots after a 20-year relationship appears more likely than ever, believe it or not. William Hill oddsmakers are offering the opportunity to bet on it: Which team will Brady take his first snap with in Week 1 of the 2020-21 regular season?

“It’s getting a lot of publicity and people are betting it, so it’s a win-win prop for us,” said Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill’s director of trading.

After about a week’s worth of action, the Patriots are -150 favorites to keep Brady. Bogdanovich said the Las Vegas Raiders, the second choice at 4/1 odds, have attracted the most wagering interest in Nevada by drawing approximately 25 percent of the 173 tickets written on the prop. The Los Angeles Chargers (9/2) and Tennessee Titans (7/1) are the only other choices listed at single-digit odds.

“I would like to see some change,” Bogdanovich said. “I hope Brady goes anywhere but New England. I want something different. I’m tired of seeing that show.”

Michael Lombardi, a VSiN analyst and former NFL executive who worked in the Patriots organization from 2014-16, said it’s smart to bet on change.

“I think it will come down to the Titans and Raiders,” Lombardi said.

Tom Brady
Tom BradyGetty Images

The Brady prop is a foray into a new frontier. A free-agency decision is not a normal betting option, and Nevada gaming rules stipulate a prop must be determined on the field of play, so the prop must be worded accordingly. If Brady does not take a snap in Week 1, because of injury or retirement, William Hill posted “None” as an option at 40/1 odds.

A few other sportsbooks, including the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas and PointsBet in New Jersey, also opened the Brady prop recently.

“One of the reasons we really wanted to get this prop up is it opens up opportunities for other free agents in all sports,” Westgate book director John Murray said. “Nobody has any idea where Brady is going, but people are interested in it.”

One morning last week there were several reports from media members who cover the NFL, with some saying Brady is leaving New England and others saying he’s staying.

“Who knows who to believe?” Murray said. “Nobody has bet the Patriots with us. There are better prices elsewhere. We are hoping to scoop the pot if Brady stays put.”

Westgate opened the Patriots as -400 favorites and the price has been lowered to -200. The Titans, who lead the ticket count, have been bet from 10/1 to 4/1. The Raiders, with the second-most tickets, were adjusted from 6/1 to 5/1. Most of the wagers are in the $50 to $100 range, Murray said, with Dallas (80/1) and Tampa Bay (14/1) also attracting small action.

“The Patriots have seen a few decent-sized bets, but they are notably lagging on the ticket count at around 10 percent,” said Matthew Chaprales of PointBet. “The Chargers, just under 20 percent, and the Titans at 17 percent have generated the most interest. This market is unique in that since it’s purely narrative-driven, the Patriots’ price is moving primarily due to the recent swell of media reports as opposed to action.”

PointsBet lists the Patriots at -145 to be Brady’s Week 1 team, followed by the Raiders (9/2), Titans (11/2) and Chargers (7/1).

Brady’s connection to the Titans is with coach Mike Vrabel, a former Patriots linebacker. Lombardi said to watch Tennessee and its upcoming decision whether or not to franchise-tag quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Titans, who eliminated the Patriots in the wild-card round, are built to contend for the Super Bowl now, an important factor to Brady. The Raiders are not as close to contending, Lombardi said, though coach Jon Gruden is ready to move away from Derek Carr. Lombardi added it would be “easy” for Las Vegas to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million contract.

“The Raiders hate Carr,” Lombardi said. “The Raiders have a really good offensive line, which Brady values.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is probably prepared to go into the 2020 season with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham and a veteran such as Marcus Mariota, Lombardi said.

“I can’t really picture Brady succeeding on another team,” Murray said. “It’s hard for me to believe at age 43 he’s going to go to a new team, learn a new offensive scheme and be successful. I’m not saying that as an insult to Brady.”

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