“You know, we’re just happy that we have him back,” Licht told JoeBucsFan.com during the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday, March 28. “We’ll see where it goes from here. We’re just happy that he’s going to be playing for us this year. We’ll see where it goes.”
Licht added that if Brady plans to become a free agent in 2023, that’s a question for the quarterback according to JoeBucsFan.com. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert ranked Brady 15th among top potential free agents in 2023. Brady only committed to the 2022 season in his unretirement announcement on March 13.
“Yes, Brady’s age is similar to that of the fathers of some teammates,” Seifert wrote. “And after retiring briefly this offseason, it’s clear the end of his career is on his mind, and there is no projecting whether he would want to play in 2023. But for the moment, he fits the description of a player qualified to be on this list. He’s a high-end quarterback with a contract that automatically voids after this season. Let the speculation begin.”
The Bucs can’t franchise tag Brady for 2023 because he “has a no-tag clause in his contract” according to a source via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. That means the Bucs must re-sign Brady for 2023, or he will become a free agent.
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Re-Working Brady’s Contract
A week after Brady’s return, Jeff How of The Athletic reported on March 21 that Brady “will likely adjust his contract to free up cap space” according to a source.
“Not expected to be a significant restructure — more of a move for cap purposes,” Howe wrote. “No specific timeline at the moment, but it’s been discussed.”
Licht described re-working Brady’s contract as a priority during a March 21 press conference. The Bucs entered free agency with little cap space and 20-plus players to re-sign.
“We have some work to do, and we’ve got some plans. There’s several ways to go about it, but I don’t want to get into too much of what we’re doing,” Licht told the media. “We’ve got several alternatives that we can do, and we’re confident that we’ll be able to get it done.”
It behooves the Bucs to do something with Brady’s contract, which will create a $24 million dead cap hit in 2023 per Spot Trac. Brady will make $10.39 million in 2022 on the final year of his contract with a $20.2 million cap hit per Spot Trac.
Brady’s Unretirement Didn’t Surprise Former Coach
It didn’t shock Brady’s former coach, Josh McDaniels, that the superstar quarterback unretired. McDaniels served as an offensive assistant coach in New England for 10 seasons when Brady played there.
“Whatever he chooses to do, he deserves the opportunity to choose what he wants to do and how he wants to do it,” McDaniels, now the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, told the media on Monday at the yearly NFL meeting per Pro Football Talk.
“I just think I see a guy that’s playing at an extremely high level. Super competitive. And at this age, nobody’s really done this before. So to see him playing at that level and walk away, I think all of us would’ve been a little sad on opening day had that been the case,” McDaniels added per Pro Football Talk. “But knowing him like I do, how competitive he is, if he can still do it at a high level, if he can still compete to win championships, it doesn’t shock me that he came back.”