Brady filed a retirement letter with the NFL and NFLPA on Friday, February 10, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It made Brady’s February 1 retirement announcement official, and it also put the Bucs in a pickle from a salary cap standpoint since the team will endure a dead-cap hit of $35.1 million. That’s part of the Bucs’ $55.7 million over the salary cap, per Spotrac.
“It makes it awkward for the Bucs to ask him to do a one-year dummy deal that drives down his $35.1 million dead-money cap charge for 2023,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote. “‘I’m retired,’ would be the automatic response to any effort to get him to sign a new deal.”
“But he could still sign a one-year contract for the veteran minimum, with the Buccaneers officially placing him on the reserve-retired list after June 1,” Florio added. “That would result in a $10.776 million cap charge for 2023, and it would push $24.328 million in dead money to 2024.”
Florio notably broke news on the Miami Dolphins‘ pursuit of Brady in 2022, amid the quarterback’s first retirement, which ended after 40 days. The Dolphins got caught by the league for illegal tampering and lost a draft pick. Brady had a year left on his contract with the Bucs that time around unlike this offseason.
“It will be interesting to see whether the Buccaneers try to get him to do it, and whether he hides [disingenuously] behind the idea that he has retired,” Florio wrote. “If he resists the effort to reduce his cap consequences for 2023, Brady will definitely become a free agent in March. Which will allow him to sign with any other team at any time.”
Brady’s Letter ‘Means Nothing’
While Schefter reported that Brady’s letter “silences any questions about whether Brady might return”, Florio doesn’t buy it.
“He can return at any time. He doesn’t even have to send in another letter to do so, unless the Buccaneers place him on the reserve-retired list before his contract voids in March,” Florio wrote. “As one league source explained it, the Buccaneers can’t place him on the reserve-retired list, because his contract automatically voids in March.”
Florio noted that the letter doesn’t affect Brady’s pension benefit eligibility, and it doesn’t affect Brady’s ability to “sign any type of contract with any team” come March.
Door Still Open for Brady’s Return
Florio anticipates that Brady could become a free agent and sign with another team in March — or later. Brady had been linked to multiple teams before his retirement: the Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, and Las Vegas Raiders among other potential suitors.
“On Monday, he had a chance to completely slam the door on a return, during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s show,” Florio wrote. “Brady didn’t. Later that day, he said on his podcast that he still wants to play and still believes he can play.”
Brady originally said the retirement is “for good” in his February 1 Instagram video, but he also comes off of a season where he threw for 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns versus nine interceptions. He also set a single-season record for pass completions, 490, along the way.