Tom Brady’s sudden retirement feels more and more odd as new reports continue to trickle in.
During his two weeks of post-retirement life, Brady has not only left the door open on a possible return, reports have trickled in that it could be a temporary one.
Many have speculated that Brady’s retirement had more to do with the feeling that if he returned, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn’t be a Super Bowl threat. According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, people around Brady feel he was “forced” into retiring and ex-New England Patriots peers don’t believe that he’s done at all.
“I’ve talked to a couple of people who were with Brady in Foxboro, know him very well, and they said, ‘I don’t believe for a second that he’s done,'” Giardi said.
“A lot of people feel like (Brady) was almost forced in that direction (to retire),” Giardi continued, “and doesn’t wanna go in that direction just yet.”
Brady had long stated his desire to play until a target age of 45 years old. He even signed a contract extension with the Buccaneers in 2021 that would continue his career through the 2022 season. It wasn’t until just days prior to Tampa Bay’s playoff game versus the Los Angeles Rams that reports trickled in that Brady could be done.
Considering the 44-year-old quarterback is coming off of a season in which he was an MVP candidate, it’s hard to believe the ultra-competitive Brady is done. Giardi continues to mention that another possibility — as other analysts have proposed — is Brady coming back to play for another team.
“The situation in Tampa — they ran it back last year, they didn’t win a title,” Giardi reported. “Now, there’s some cap concerns. Can they bring everybody back? It doesn’t seem that’s gonna be the case. Maybe, just maybe, Tom Brady is looking elsewhere and saying, ‘I can’t win a title here, but maybe I can win one elsewhere.’ … He did not close the door on playing football.”
The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Bucs Face Rough Salary Cap Situation in 2022
As Giardi notes, a major concern could be Tampa Bay’s cap situation. The Buccaneers returned all 22 of their starters from the 2020 squad. That will not be the case heading into the 2022 offseason. The Bucs have less than $7 million in cap space available and have multiple stars entering free agency: Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, to name a few.
As good as Brady remains at this stage of his career, he’s not returning to carry a team into contention. We saw him forced to do that during his final season with the Patriots back in 2019 and it eventually led to his departure from New England.
Unless the Bucs make major moves re-shuffling their salary cap situation, they could be forced to allow most of their key free agents to walk.
That — more than anything — could have forced Brady’s hand and his sudden decision to retire.
Report: Watson Eyeing Bucs as Next Destination
Despite his uncertain NFL future, Deshaun Watson appears to be eyeing the Bucs as his next destination.
According to a report by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings are among the two teams on Watson’s radar. The former Pro Bowl quarterback missed the entire 2021 season after demanding a trade from the Houston Texans. However, he’s also a defendant in 22 civil lawsuits for alleged sexual misconduct.
“The Texans quarterback, who spent the 2021 season on the team’s active roster but did not play, has begun evaluating potential fits for his services in 2022, with the Buccaneers and Vikings among teams on his radar.
One source noted that Watson — who has a no-trade clause — is still early in the evaluation process, but he’s looking for the right blend of offensive system, coaching, talent and, most importantly, the chance to win,” says Fowler.
Fowler continues to note that the Bucs will “exhaust all options” to fill the quarterback void left by Brady. He continues to mention how Tampa Bay could explore trades for the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.
There will be a number of quarterbacks mentioned as possibilities for the Bucs. But it all boils down to whether or not these quarterbacks will actually be available.
Rodgers and Wilson may very well not even hit the trade market. And Watson’s uncertain future stemming from his off-the-field lawsuits makes it hard to envision the Bucs actually pursuing him over other quarterbacks.
It’s very possible Tampa Bay enters the season without a star quarterback under center.