Bruce Arians: Bucs would have “turned over every stone,” if Tom Brady hadn’t returned

NFL: JAN 23 NFC Divisional Round - Rams at Buccaneers
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The Buccaneers were as little as a day away from potentially striking a deal with a free-agent quarterback when Tom Brady realized that it was time to play or get off the pot. So what would have happened if Tom Brady hadn’t unretired two weeks ago today (and, yes, it was only two weeks ago today)?

“We had started to uncover as many stones as we possibly could,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told Steve Wyche of NFL Network at the league meetings in Florida. “We would’ve turned over every stone. . . . [G.M.] Jason [Licht] did his calls. We were in the midst of all that stuff when Tom decided to come back and thank God we could say, ‘No thanks, brother. We’re out of it.'”

Options included not just free agents (Teddy Bridgewater was Tampa’s Plan B to Brady in 2020) but trades for the likes of Deshaun Watson or Baker Mayfield. Brady realized that the Bucs would soon be forced to make a decision that would make it impossible for him to come back to Tampa in 2022. Given the team’s apparent reluctance to trade him or let him walk away to another team, Brady realized that, if he was going to play this year, he needed to stay where he was.

As to the possibility of Brady wanting to play elsewhere, Arians downplayed and dismissed such chatter — as he always does to reports that don’t mesh with his preferred viewpoints.

“I have no clue where it comes from,” Arians said. “Somebody’s got to write a story every day about something. Tom and I have a great relationship. Even during the retirement: ‘Where you at?’ ‘I’m in Italy.’ ‘How’s it going?’ ‘Got the kids over here.’ You know, just checking on him. I can’t get him back on the golf course because he’s traveling too much, so I can’t win enough money off of him.”

But the truth is that the Dolphins were exploring a Tom Brady/Sean Payton package deal, and the reality is that the Dolphins wouldn’t have been thinking about it if Brady wasn’t at least on board with the theoretical possibility of it.

Ultimately, why did Brady “retire” for 40 days? His father has blamed it on the media reporting that he’d be retiring. Which makes no sense.

What makes sense is that Brady wanted to take a step back and consider his options — all options — before making a decision about 2022. He decided that his best decision was to stay in Tampa. Next year, he’ll make another decision, based on all relevant facts and circumstances at that time.

20 responses to “Bruce Arians: Bucs would have “turned over every stone,” if Tom Brady hadn’t returned

  1. I wonder if Tom may lose a step or 2 this season because of age. It has to happen eventually.

    He has hinted around that at times after games he does feel his age but he always seems to be in great shape 7 days later.

  2. Brady slowed down a ton last year as it got later in the season, and he’s another year older this year, so he’s simply not going to get the same results. Yes he can still play, and yes his mind is still sharp, but Father Time is undefeated for a reason.

  3. It’s amazing to hear, since he became a free agent two years ago all the reasons why he wouldn’t go to Tampa Bay. And when he did, and won a Super Bowl and followed with one of his best seasons ever, coming within a FG of going to the conference finals, he was angry with Arians and wanted to go to SF. And now he comes back and is actively recruiting free agents who have signed with the Bucs for multiple seasons, the story is he now wants to go to Miami but was “forced” to come back with the Bucs? Keep fishing. Working on your second book to immediately discount upon release?

  4. Father time has never faced a player of Brady’s age and still playing at his skill level as a QB in the NFL. Brady will decide for himself when he wants to retire. Father time won’t be making that decision.

  5. Brady actually had a fast 40 time LAST year than his rookie year (Which is of course, glacial-esque) Anyhow, in that Rams game, he stood on his 45 and dropped the ball into Evan’s hands at the goal line

  6. It was only a matter of time before brady announced he was coming back.
    No doubt in my mind.

  7. Bruce is obnoxious. It’s always some tough guy threats in public, followed by walking back words. I’m hoping Tom jumps to the Fins next year and quits carrying this dudes weight.

  8. Wait for it. Brady will announce another retirement at the end of this season and announce a comeback in a few weeks. It’s all about the attention which he thrives on.

  9. Say what you want BA is one of the best head coaches in the league. Go look at what he did with the Colts and Cardinals. Two coach of the year awards before he ever had Brady.

  10. I thought arians was all in with Gabbert. Nobody has Gabbert on a team as good as the Bucs

  11. nosurrender says:
    March 27, 2022 at 10:04 am
    Brady slowed down a ton last year as it got later in the season,


    He lost his #1 and #3 WRs…. And he still led the league in both TDs and passing yards

  12. Isn’t it actually in Arians’ contract that he doesn’t have to call plays or game plan? Dude loves to run his mouth.

  13. You’re missing one key point, Florio.

    If Brady WANTED to go to Miami or San Fran, or anywhere else, all he had to do was wait until Tampa signed a replacement, and THEN “unretire”. At that point, the Bucs would be committed to his replacement and would have no choice but to make some kind of deal to move him.

    He clearly didn’t want to leave Tampa.

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