Entering the 2022 season, it was pretty clear to many that this would be Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s final season.
Both with the Buccaneers and the NFL. Meaning, many figured Brady would retire in 2023 and stay retired, this time around.
Hell, NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport even wrote a report back in Week 1 stating 2022 is “expected to be” Brady’s final year:
“The 45-year-old is heading into what is expected to be his final season in the NFL, according to sources with knowledge of his thinking. He has never said it publicly, but multiple parties involved acknowledge that after last year’s retirement then unretirement, the end is coming. That is the understanding, that this is the final year.”
But, now, Rapoport is saying “all options are on the table” when it comes to Brady’s future in 2023 and beyond, confirming the recently-risen suspicion that Brady won’t retire after this season.
“Multiple sources close to the legendary quarterback say all options are on the table for Brady, who at age 45 feels good enough to keep playing and once again has the Buccaneers in playoff position entering today’s game against the 49ers.
… Brady has seemed more like himself in recent weeks. He has been asking for more competitive 1-on-1 reps in practice. He’s feeling better physically after dealing with shoulder and finger injuries earlier in the season.”
A lot -and I mean a lot- has changed since the start of the season. The Buccaneers are nowhere near the offensive powerhouse we’re accustomed to and the result through 13 weeks is an average record of 6-6.
And, of course, Brady finalized his divorce the day after the Thursday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
It’s the last development, however, that has many suspecting Brady continues to play after the 2022 season. Family has always been the catalyst behind Brady’s eventual decision to retire, but, that situation has obviously changed quite a bit over the last couple of months.
Brady is still playing pretty well, so it now seems more likely than ever that we’ll see him in 2023.
It just probably won’t be in Tampa Bay.
It’s mostly because the Buccaneers can’t afford him. Even if Brady were to take a deal that includes very low base salaries and very high signing bonuses/guarantees that are implemented down the road, the Buccaneers are still currently $40+ million over 2023’s salary cap, per Over The Cap.
That, combined with obvious roster deficiencies in certain areas are very, very likely to rule out a Buccaneers-Brady relationship in 2023 and beyond. Now, the Buccaneers can erase a lot of that owed money if Buccaneers does indeed re-sign with the team. Brady’s four void years will get spread among the deal he signs and it’s likely that it’ll be a one-year deal that includes the same four void years. But, no matter what, a lot of moving pieces will be required to keep Brady and the Buccaneers could very well lose some key players in the process.
Either way, a second edition of Free Agency with Tom Brady will certainly have everyone paying attention to every second of the news cycle in March. And many fans will be clamoring for him to play for their team.
And that’s guaranteed to make the 2023 offseason very, very interesting.
You can check out Rapoport’s full report, here.
Featured image via Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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