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Bears, Saints loomed under the radar in pursuit of Tom Brady

When Tom Brady made his long-awaited free agency decision on March 17, the widely held belief was that he chose the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Los Angeles Chargers. Simple.

In reality, it was a bit more complicated. Multiple sources reflected on the situation this week, shedding additional light on what went into Brady's choice. In fact, there were a few more teams interested than previously reported.

As Brady's Bucs are set to debut in New Orleans, one of the teams that made a run at Brady is his opponent today -- the Saints. Another team that made an under-the-radar offer was Chicago.

Both teams held multiple conversations about Brady and both at one point were in the running. As it turns out, Brady's market was more robust than previously thought.

For the Saints, the inquiries -- back-channel or otherwise -- ended when Drew Brees announced on Instagram that he would return for 2020.

Brady made no secret of the fact that if Brees was retiring and heading to the TV booth, Brady would like to replace him. Brady mentioned this, sources say, to a few Saints players, knowing that word would get back. New Orleans was into it, as well, with Brady seen by head coach Sean Payton as the perfect replacement for Brees.

However, when Brees announced he was not done yet, the Brady-to-New-Orleans move died. Meanwhile, it appears the Patriots would not have had an issue with Brady and New Orleans talking, as NBCSports Boston reported the Patriots wouldn't file tampering charges if a team spoke with Brady before his contract was up. They wanted him to know his market.

As for the Bears, they looked into all the available QBs before eventually trading for Nick Foles (who will be the backup for Chicago today). Brady was one of them, and Chicago made an offer, sources say.

While there was a lot to like, Brady didn't warm to the idea of playing in the cold again, leaving the Chargers and Bucs as the finalists.

When he eventually picked Tampa Bay, Brady signed a two-year contract worth $50 million base value with a max value of $59 million. His incentives are interesting.

Each year has playoff-based incentives, assuming he plays 75 percent of the plays. The maximum value is $2.25 million each year.

Brady gets $500,000 if the Bucs make the playoffs. That becomes $750,000 if they win a wild-card game or get a bye, and that becomes $1.25 million if they win a divisional round game, which turns into $1.75 million if they advance to the Super Bowl. It hits the max of $2.25 million if they win the Super Bowl.

As for the personal performance incentives, Brady can hit the max value of $2.25 million if he accomplishes four of five categories (and has a minimum of 224 attempts). Hitting each incentive by itself earns him $562,000, while four of them net him $2.25 million. Those incentives are: top 5 in passer rating, top 5 in passing TDs or 25 or more, top 5 in passing yards, top 5 in completion percentage and top 5 in yards per pass.

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