Tom Brady Becomes AFC Team’s ‘Top Priority’ for Free Agency: Report

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady could head west to Las Vegas in 2023.

With a recent change out west, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady could don silver and black next season.

Both Ben Volin of the Boston Globe and Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal anticipate Brady joining the Las Vegas Raiders amid the benching of quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders won’t play Carr again this season, and Brady will become a free agent in the offseason unless the Bucs re-sign him or he retires. Brady will consider “all options” after the season according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Besides Carr’s benching, both Volin and Bonsignore tied Brady to the Raiders because of his prior relationship with head coach Josh McDaniels. Brady played for McDaniels, an offensive coordinator at the time, with the New England Patriots from  2012 to 2019.

“Brady, if he doesn’t retire and hits free agency, will clearly be a person of interest,” Bonsignore wrote. “So will [Jimmy] Garoppolo. Both have significant ties to McDaniels, and each satisfies the all-important trust factor with their former coach.”

Tom Brady & Josh McDaniels

GettyTom Brady and Josh McDaniels embrace after a 2021 game between the Buccaneers and Patriots.

Volin highlighted UFC president Dana White’s claim about he helped Brady and Rob Gronkowski almost join the Raiders in 2020 before then-head coach Jon Gruden nixed it. Raiders owner Mark Davis claimed otherwise.

“That was what — two to three years ago or something? I don’t know,” Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2022. “Talk to Dana. I remember that Tom Brady went to Tampa Bay. That’s basically what I remember.”

“Dana has the stories. I love Dana. He is a great, great promoter,” Davis added.

Volin speculates that Gronkowski could unretire a second time an join Brady in Las Vegas. Gronkowski retired in 2022, but he left the door open for a return — just a little — in a recent interview with NFL Network’s Kay Adams on her podcast.

Raiders Have Talent Waiting for Brady

While McDaniels didn’t lead the Raiders (6-10) to anticipated heights in the 2022 season, the team has droves of talent.

Bonsignore wrote that the Raiders need to make the most of their “two-year window of core players” on both sides of the ball. The Raiders most notably have a superstar wide receiver in Davante Adams, who left quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers join one-time college teammate Carr in Las Vegas.

Brady joining the Raiders could help keep Adams content if the team trades away Carr. Either way, the Raiders have a deep offense with wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller plus 1,000-yard running back Josh Jacobs.

Defensively, the Raiders have a dangerous pair of defensive ends in Maxx Crosby and Chandlers Jones. The Raiders defense gave up 24.2 points per game in its first 16 contests, but the offense, mostly led by Carr, only mustered 23.9 points per game a committed 29 turnovers.

If Brady and Gronkowski headed west together, they would face an exponentially tougher division than the NFC South. The Kansas City Chiefs look as strong as ever, the Los Angeles Chargers keep improving, and the Denver Broncos could be dangerous with quarterback Russell Wilson and an offseason makeover.

Another challenge for Brady comes off of the field. He would move away from his children in Miami to Las Vegas. Brady would also have a longer flight to New York for his oldest son, but Brady would have a short flight to San Francisco to see his parents.

Carr Could Join Bucs

Ironically, Carr has been linked to the Bucs in trade rumors multiple times — most recently by The Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora. A 3-time Pro Bowler, Carr has seen better seasons than 2022, and he has playoff experience.

Who Tampa Bay will need to trade in order to land Carr remains the big question. The Bucs face a dire salary cap situation for 2023 with more than $43.1 million over the cap to start per Spotrac.