Tom Brady’s Proposed Destination Faces Big Obstacle, Insider Says

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady could return to his former team in 2023, but there's a significant obstacle in the way, a Patriots insider says.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady returning to his old stomping grounds next year likely won’t happen for a very practical reason.

New England Patriots insider Mike Reiss of ESPN shot down a speculative report by Jeff Howe of The Athletic that Brady will leave Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2023 and rejoin the Patriots. Head coach Bill Belichick already has a viable franchise quarterback in Mac Jones, Reiss emphasized when he visited the “Zolak & Bertrand” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Wednesday, November 30.

“Full commitment to Mac,” Reiss told the “Zolak & Bertrand” hosts. “Like, make no mistake about it. They are all-in on Mac. So, as we talk about this, I wouldn’t want anything to ever come across as if, like, they were second-guessing that position.”

Reiss added that he thinks both “Belichick and the players” are “all-in” on Jones.

That’s just one of many obstacles in Brady leaving Tampa Bay after three seasons to return to New England. Brady got offered more guaranteed money by the Bucs than Patriots in 2020 according to 98.5 the Sports Hub. He also wants a warmer climate, based on comments on 2021,  and a Super Bowl-ready roster, based on his free agency search in 2020. The Patriots can’t change the weather and haven’t improved its receiving corps since Brady left.

The Bucs seem confident of Brady staying another year in Tampa Bay. Former head coach Bruce Arians, now the senior consultant to the general manager, said Brady “loves it here” in an interview with Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com. Another source with the Bucs called Brady “heavily invested in many ways” with the organization, according to JoeBucsFan.com.


Howe: ‘Maybe It’s a Long Shot’

Even Howe conceded in his article that Brady reuniting with Belichick isn’t overly likely.

“Maybe it’s a long shot. There might be better situations for Brady,” Howe wrote. “But just when you think you’ve got Belichick figured out, he does something no one sees coming.”

Howe highlighted Brady’s and Belichick’s “abundance or respect for one another” as one reason why the reunion could happen. Howe also noted that the Patriots will have “more than $100 million in cap space in 2023”, so the Patriots can boost the roster and sign Brady to a favorable contract though probably a one-year deal, Howe noted. The Bucs, on the other hand, have a dire salary cap situation with $49.58 million over the cap for 2023, per Spotrac.

Despite the Patriots already having Jones at quarterback, the team doesn’t need to be traded because of his rookie contract, Howe wrote. How that would work with being “all-in” on Jones as Reiss noted, that’s another matter.

“While they certainly could — and as is the case with many starting quarterbacks, they’ start the trade conversations with the hopes of recouping a first-round pick — there’d be loads of value in Jones learning from Brady,” Howe wrote.


Another Trip to Foxborough for Brady With the Bucs?

If Brady returns to the Bucs in 2023 instead of leaving in free agency or retiring at age 45, he could play at Foxborough one more time against his old team.

The Bucs have an AFC East Division road opponent to be determined in 2023 according to Buccaneers.com. Tampa Bay will face AFC South opponents next season, but the 17-game schedule created the need to add another AFC opponent each season.

Brady’s first return to Foxborough drew 28.5 million viewers in 2021 when the Bucs edged the Patriots 19-17.

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