Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady responded to a text message that could signal a possible return — or maybe not.
Fellow former Bucs great and current San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch confirmed that he did text Brady in the past month. Brady retired on February 1, but speculation of a possible return to the game persist since Brady did just that a year ago.
“I sent him a text when he retired,” Lynch told reporters on Tuesday, February 28, at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “He was a teammate for about three weeks at one point, so I sent him a text, ‘Congratulations.’ One of the greatest careers that I’ve ever seen in any sport.’ I wished him the best. We will leave it at that.”
Lynch didn’t leave it strictly to that as he revealed if Brady responded, at reporters’ prompting.
“I got a thumbs up,” Lynch said.
Meanwhile, Bucs general manager Jason Licht addressed Brady’s status during the Bucs’ combine press conference on Tuesday. Convinced that Brady will stay retired, Licht won’t leave as much light on this time around waiting for Brady.
“Pretty much, yeah,” Licht told reporters. “I said I’d leave a desk lamp on. Before [Brady’s return] last year, I said I’d leave the light on. Maybe it’s a flashlight [this year]. I don’t know.”
“I think he’s gotten his mind set [about retirement],” Licht added. “I think he’s happy with his decision and we’re happy for him.”
The Bucs plan to start third-year quarterback Kyle Trask, but the team could land a veteran quarterback in free agency next. Only Trask remains under contract with Brady retired and Blaine Gabbert headed for free agency.
Brady Could Have Open Door With 49ers at Any Point
As for the 49ers, questions also abound at the quarterback position with Trey Lance as the only one set to be healthy early in 2023. Brock Purdy is waiting on elbow surgery, and Jimmy Garoppolo, a possible Bucs target, plans to leave in free agency.
“We may have to look into the quarterback market in addition to Brock and Trey, to insulate ourselves from whatever may happen,” Lynch told reporters. “We will do our due diligence as we always do.”
Lynch only confirmed a congratulatory exchange with Brady, but an unsettled quarterback situation for a Super Bowl contender begs the question if the door is open or close for Brady to play for his hometown team.
Doubt of Finality Remains for Brady
While Brady has shown signs of making this retirement permanent, doubt remains over last year’s quick turnaround. This time, he submitted a retirement letter to the NFL and NFLPA on February 10, and he has an upcoming unofficial retirement party in March through his NFT company, Autograph.
Brady called his retirement “for good” in his February 1 Instagram story to announce calling it a career. He didn’t close the door on a comeback when he talked with FS1’s Colin Cowherd on “The Herd With Colin Cowherd“, and Brady also announced plans to start his broadcasting job with FOX in 2024.
The year gap has invited speculation ever since. Cowherd acknowledged on “The Volume” that Brady could field calls from interested teams. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer noted the same and emphasized that Brady could feel differently about retirement when August rolls around for training camp.