Almost anyone who ever played with or against Tom Brady would mention him as the greatest player they’ve ever shared the field with. We saw that bear out time and time again in the 2022 season, as opponents would sprint up for the 45 year-old quarterback in order to communicate their appreciation, or have him sign one piece of the equipment.
Football is the consummate team game though, and it goes both ways. As sensational as Brady’s play on the field was, he also had the opportunity to compete with some phenomenal players, who delivered when the lights shined brightest.
Let’s take a look at three players who were arguably the greatest to ever play with Brady.
When one considers the longevity and time spent together with Brady, it seems undeniable that the name most linked with the greatest quarterback of all time is Rob Gronkowski’s. Gronkowski’s introduction to the dynasty that the Patriots had was an interesting wrinkle, as he was a unique individual who was brought into a culture that was as hyper-focused as any in the NFL. The Patriots had used their tight ends effectively before Gronkowski joined the team in 2010, but never did they have someone who was as physically imposing.
While many teams(including New England for stretch) were determined to find playmaking ability on the outside, the Patriots doubled down on looking for that explosiveness at the line of scrimmage and in the middle of the field. As a rookie, Gronkowski established himself as a force, catching 10 touchdowns in his first year. The former University of Arizona star would catch 79 scoring passes in his nine years with New England. Gronkowski would also join Brady in Tampa Bay, where he once again served as a dominant goal line threat.
Even though there is no undervaluing Gronkowski’s achievements, there is a real case to be made that Randy Moss is the most talented player Brady ever played with. The two connected during an interesting time in both Moss’s and Brady’s career. Before 2007(the first year Moss and Brady played together), Brady’s receivers had largely been possession players, who were good enough to move the chains but not separate for big plays. With the Oakland Raiders, Moss was wrapping up a couple of down seasons, and many wondered if he had lost a step.
The two made magic as a lethal pairing. Moss caught an eye popping 23 touchdowns, as Brady pushed the ball down the field to him. There were few, if any, matchups that Moss couldn’t come out on top in, and the quarterback gave him as many chances as he needed to come down with the ball. From 2007-2009, Moss caught 47 touchdowns, and eclipsed 1000 yards in every campaign.
Even though he wasn’t as flashy or as heralded as Moss or Gronkowski coming into the NFL, Julian Edelman evolved into one of the superior wide receivers in the NFL. He wasn’t going to beat many players in a race, but his footwork and route running precision allowed him to come open right when Brady expected. This connection felt automatic for a long time, and always gave Brady an outlet when it seemed like the defense had things well covered.
Brady targeted Edelman over 100 times in five seasons, which indicates the level of trust the quarterback had in a former seventh round draft pick.