Buccaneers are caught in an awkward spot, and that could work to Tom Brady’s advantage

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He’s retired, for now. He’s under contract with the Buccaneers, for now. The question is whether Tom Brady will stay retired — and whether the Buccaneers will make irreversible plans for life without him before he potentially unretires.

Six days after the First Annual Brady Retirement Watch ended, Brady himself commenced the First Annual Brady Unretirement Watch, via comments on his podcast. There’s a definite and palpable sense that he will play again; some in league circles already believe he could be back by July. Of this year.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers need a quarterback plan. They have Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask. Per NFL Media, they could explore trades for players like Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. If they do such a deal, the door necessarily closes on Brady returning to Tampa. (At a minimum, an unretirement could become very awkward.)

That may be what Brady wants. Instead of making an overt play to get out of Tampa, he may hope that the natural unfolding of events will make it impractical for the Bucs to keep him, so that he could play for one more year with a team that is perhaps better suited to allow him to win an eighth Super Bowl and walk away.

As previously explained, the roster move the Bucs make after June 1 will be telling. If they put him on the reserve-retired list, they continue to own his rights. If they release him, he’s free to sign with any team at any time.

“You never say never,” Brady said on his own podcast six days ago. “At the same time I know that I’m very, I feel very good about my decision. I don’t know how I’ll feel six months from now.”

That last part is what got my attention. Fourteen years ago, then-retired (for the first time) Brett Favre appeared on David Letterman’s show and said, “I think when training camp gets close, I will — something’s bound to happen.” That’s stronger than what Brady said, but the expression of vague uncertainty regarding a not-too-distant future is worth paying close attention to.

Before the possibility of Brady retiring emerged in the days preceding Tampa Bay’s playoff loss to the Rams, Brady’s position was clear. He’d play through 2022. And then, he was gone.

He’s also said he doesn’t want to turn on a game and think that he could do better than the players he’s watching. If he doesn’t return, he’d better not watch any other games in 2022.

So if this all is part of a semi-elaborate ruse on Brady’s part to engineer a graceful exit from Tampa, what is his preferred next destination? Two years ago, he wanted to play for the 49ers, and they passed. Would they give Trey Lance another year to develop with Brady as the starter? That would give Brady a chance to play for the team for which he grew up cheering, with a roster that otherwise remains ready to win a Super Bowl — and a head coach who would surely take full advantage of the upgrade from Jimmy Garoppolo.

If I were a betting man (and fortunately for my bank accounts I’m not), I’d put a few bucks on the currently slim possibility that, when the 2022 season rolls around, Brady gets what he possibly currently wants from the Bucs (a way out) and what he definitely wanted two years ago from the Niners (a way in).

50 responses to “Buccaneers are caught in an awkward spot, and that could work to Tom Brady’s advantage

  1. Similar situation to Gronk and the Pats in that Gronk unretired when he knew that the Pats didn’t have the cap room to roster him. They had already committed cap room elsewhere by the time he made his decision known. I’m sure that Brady noticed.

  2. Look back at the divisional round weekend. Josh Allen, Mahomes, and Burrow were playing out of their minds and Brady and Rodgers fizzled…. That weekend was the transition. Football is moving beyond Tom Brady being on the field.

  3. Personally I think he wanted out, because the Bucks will be a shadow of the roster needed to win a SB and possibly he has fallen out with Bruce Arien, if he gets released, I would bet he’ll be back

  4. It’s NOT like it’s a surprise to the BUCS. They knew Tom was going to retire or at least he was seriously thinking about it …that’s why they drafted a QB. Worse case senereo they let Gabbert start and bring in a middle priced veteran to back him up. Lots of free agents are leaving Tampa anyway so it doesn’t matter.

  5. Well instead of getting nothing for him, and the 49ers maybe getting nothing for Jimmy (I don’t know much about that) WHY wouldn’t they just swap them. Brady for Jimmy? Jimmy WINS when healthy. He’s good enough for the Bucs for now. The Bucs could still draft a young QB (better prospect than what they have on roster now). Seems like a win-win as long as the salary cap wouldn’t muck it up.

  6. redclaw1314 says:
    February 13, 2022 at 6:47 am
    Similar situation to Gronk and the Pats in that Gronk unretired when he knew that the Pats didn’t have the cap room to roster him. They had already committed cap room elsewhere by the time he made his decision known. I’m sure that Brady noticed.

    The Pats were fine just letting him go cheap too though. They were not going to win with or without him at that point. So what they got from Tampa was more like found money than really having their hand forced to trade what they would have preferred keeping. Tampa on the other hand would love to keep the gang together for another run. They know that without the injury bug changing things like it did this is a championship caliber team, and squeezing another year out of it is still within reach.

  7. For days before he retired all you read on here was that he’s retiring and wouldn’t come back because he didn’t want all the attention on him retiring at the end of the season. Now that he retired all you read is that’s he’s coming back. Give it a rest already.

  8. Just hear me out on this…

    B. MAYFIELD to Tampa for the rights to Tom Brady.

    Tom does one more year, but doesn’t roll in till preseason. He gets another shot at the super bowl with a very good roster and Tampa can have give Baker a fresh start and Bruce Arians.

  9. I honestly think he’d do two years in San Fran… They have a good young talented team that was a QB away from the SB.

  10. It feels like most of the people who think Tom Brady may un-retire are the ones who have a vested interest in keeping the story of whether Tom Brady will un-retire alive.

  11. The 8th Brady SB Watch began when Bucs D Coach Todd Bowles handed the game to the Rams in a cup, when he failed to have two deep safeties covering the #1 WR in the League = Cooper Kupp.

    The 8th SB Mix was placed in the oven when Jimmy G failed in the NFCCG.

    A few days ago Highly Combustible Competition Fuel was poured on the Brady SB Fire when Joe Burrows said he was following the BEST QB in the NFL = Aron Rodgers.

    Brady to the 49rs = bank on it.

  12. I’d love to see Brady come to Green Bay and win a SuperBowl and show Rodgers how to do it with the depth of talent Green Bay surrounded Rodgers with year after year after year…….and he could not get it done.

  13. He’s waiting to see what the Lions do with all the picks. He wants to finish his career in Michigan and go out winning a Super Bowl with the Lions.

    Then I woke up from my dream.

  14. If there’s any moves by Brady,… the most obvious team I believe Tom would be interested in playing for,…. SF 49ers.
    He’s a Northern Cali boy. That is of course if Rodgers doesn’t get there before him.
    Personally,… Brady is done,… retired. Time for him to move on to another chapter.

  15. The difference between the Brady situation and the Gronk one is simple: NE wanted something for Gronk. Tampa would never get more than a ham sandwich for Brady. They’d likely release him at his request.

    So, the retire until they have to trade me strategy fails to the simple problem… he could just ask.

  16. Brady played his college football at Michigan. If he were to be traded to the Loins, he’d be returning to his roots, and could play four-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers twice a year. With Kirk Cousins up north in Minnesota, the NFC North would truly become the grandpas division.

  17. I think he is keeping his options open. If an attractive situation opens up he will look at it and if it looks like he could be successful I would not be surprised if he played another year or two. The obvious location is SF, but dont look past the Giants with Daboll or LV with McDaniels.

  18. Maybe Rodgers and Brady should go on Jeopardy for a winner take all competition to play QB for the 49ers after the 49ers realize Lance ain’t the answer.

  19. Would anyone be totally surprised if Arians reached out to a QB he won 2 other rings with….his good friend Big Ben!

  20. I think Tampa has the leverage. They know they need a new QB soon even if Brady wants to come back next year. So treat him as fully retired and get started on a new QB. Brady can’t play unless they trade his rights, so they control where he goes and for how much. If he really wants to play, they get a nice bonus from the trade as opposed to getting nothing from a retired player.

  21. The Bucs should maintain control of the contract no matter what they do at QB. If Brady wants to come back then they should help him get to wherever the wants in the AFC. Brady should have signed a one year contract if he wanted year to year total control. He had total control after the Pats because he finished his contract. He hasn’t done that here. That point seems to get lost when the talking heads discuss QBs picking their teams.

  22. Two years ago Lynch and Shanahan chose to stick with a team-first, likable guy out of some earnest sense of loyalty. It want totally ridiculous, I mean Jimmy G was one deep pass away from being a hero. However instead of seeing that as a warning for things to come, they looked at the glass as half full, and boy did it ever come back to haunt them again.

  23. Now, Did you BeliCHEAP’s believers see how hard it is to score 24 or more against good defense in playoff? let alone score 24+ in back to back playoff games.

    BeliCHEAP’s defense won the first 3 SB? give me a freaking break!!!

  24. “As previously explained, the roster move the Bucs make after June 1 will be telling. If they put him on the reserve-retired list, they continue to own his rights. If they release him, he’s free to sign with any team at any time.”

    What possible reason do the Bucs have for releasing him? He’s under contract with the Bucs. They signed him in good faith. If he’s retiring in good faith, then there’s no harm to keeping his rights.

  25. If the Bucs know Brady is coming back they’d have no problem maxing out the salary cap to do whatever it takes to win another SB.

  26. All of Brady’s Super Bowls won without a great defense, great kicking game or the other team screwing up:

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