Tom Brady Hints at Future in Contract Restructure: Report

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady's restructured contract doesn't give the Buccaneers an easy way to keep him in 2023.

Tom Brady‘s future remains in doubt beyond 2022 despite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers restructuring his contract last week.

The Bucs cleared $9 million in cap space with the restructure according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Brady will earn up to $30 million next season with the restructure according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. The Bucs quarterback made $29.4 million in 2021 and, Auman noted.

It may mark the final year of Brady with the Bucs, Schefter reported. His contract expires after the 2022 season, which will make him an unrestricted free agent for 2023. Brady’s contract also includes a no-franchise tag clause, Auman reported, which means the Bucs can’t keep him with the franchise tag.

Auman noted that Brady’s contract having a no-tag clause isn’t unusual for him. Brady’s previous Bucs contract and his final Patriots contract both had no-tag clauses. Brady signed an extension in 2021 with the Bucs on his first contract with the team.

Brady’s four voidable years in his restructured contract doesn’t give the Bucs any leverage to retain his rights after 2022. The four voidable years allow the Bucs to split Brady’s $13.88 million roster bonus through 2026 to save cap room, Auman reported. Brady’s contract also consists of $1.12 million in base salary and a $15 million deferred bonus from 2021, Auman reported.

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Salary Cap Needs for the Bucs in 2022 and Beyond

Voidable years didn’t solve all of the Bucs salary cap challenges with Brady’s contract though. It could cost the Bucs $35.1 million in dead salary cap money next year according to Auman. It means the Bucs will have to allocate that amount against the cap if Brady doesn’t play.

“If he retires or signs an extension before March, that can be split between 2023 and 2024 to make it more manageable,” Auman wrote.

For now, the Bucs have $13 million in salary cap space, according to Spot Trac, going into the NFL Draft and the waning days of free agency. Besides signing draft picks, the Bucs have yet to re-sign veteran free agents Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, and Steve McLendon. Gronkowski, who made $8 million in 2021, and Suh, who earned $9 million last year, particularly won’t come inexpensive this year.

“It’s up in the air right now, but I feel OK about it,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said about Gronkowski and Suh via the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, April 24. “There are still things to work out, and we’ll see what the draft brings and we’ll keep working with those guys, as well.”

Uncertain Future for Brady With Bucs

Brady, 44, left things up in the air after the 2021 season with a Feb. 1 retirement, but he returned to the Bucs on March 13. His future beyond 2022 looks murky as he could retire again or hit free agency.

National media pundits such as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk have persistently reported that Brady nearly joined the Miami Dolphins during retirement. Added to that, Fellow PFT commentator Chris Simms reported that the Dolphins planned to offer the Bucs a second-round draft pick for Brady’s rights to play quarterback. It didn’t match the steep price of “five No. 1s” that former Bucs head coach Bruce Arians required during the NFL Combine.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht called the rumors “chatter” during the team’s pre-draft press conference on April 19. Licht also confirmed that the Bucs haven’t offered Brady a stake in ownership yet.

“No, we haven’t had those discussions,” Licht told the media on Tuesday, April 19. “The only discussions we’ve had with Tom is when he came back. We’re excited about this year and excited to get going.”

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