If Tom Brady wants to play a 24th season in the NFL, he should have no shortage of suitors in free agency.
Tom Brady will turn 46 this August. But if the legendary quarterback wants to play for a 24th NFL season, he should have no shortage of suitors lining up for his services.
After Brady’s 2022 season — his third with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — ended in the NFC Wild Card round against Dallas on Jan. 16, the signal caller was noncommittal about his future.
“I’m going to go home and get a good night’s sleep,” Brady said in his postgame presser. “Or as good as I can tonight. … [There] has been a lot of focus on this game, so it’ll just be one day at a time, truly.”
Since leaving Raymond James Stadium after that playoff exit, Brady has remained mum about his next steps.
Of course, the seven-time Super Bowl champion could opt to hang up his cleats. He did so last January, only to come out of retirement just 40 days later.
Given the extensive resume he’s crafted, Brady has little left to prove at football’s highest level. But the former Patriot still operates with a chip on his shoulder, and seems to have plenty left in the tank.
If the right situation presents itself, don’t be surprised to see Brady once again conducting an offense down the field in 2023, whether that’s with the Buccaneers or another organization.
So where might Brady end up if he wants to keep playing next season? Let’s sort through the latest rumors surrounding the future Hall of Famer.
Here’s what to know so far:
- Tom Brady’s contract with the Buccaneers is set to expire on March 15. This will stand as the second time that the QB will enter free agency and entertain offers from teams.
- The 2022 Buccaneers limped into the playoffs with an 8-9 record. But Brady still performed well on an inconsistent Tampa offensive unit. Brady threw for 4,694 yards, the third-highest mark in the NFL this season. He finished his 23rd campaign with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
- Brady has plenty of fiscal incentive to retire if he’s stuck at a crossroad. Once Brady calls it quits, he will reportedly serve as FOX’s lead NFL analyst. According to the New York Post, Brady’s deal with Fox is for a whopping $375 million over 10 years.
- Based on Brady’s recent comments on the “Let’s Go!” SiriusXM podcast, the 45-year-old seems excited about his eventual reassignment up to the broadcast booth. “Believe me, as much as you think I’m willing to teach people, I’m really looking to learn,” Brady told guest Stephen A. Smith Monday. “I’m really looking to learn from all the people that I get to talk to. I get an opportunity to be in a job in the future where I get to travel around and learn from all the other people that I’ve looked up to and admired and different organizations and different people. So it’s exciting for me too. I feel like the opportunity to do that is something that I’m really looking forward to whenever that time comes.”
- There has been no shortage of rumors regarding Brady’s potential next stop. But Brady himself has not offered much (beyond some snark) when pressed about his looming decision. “Jim, if I knew what I was going to f—ing do, I’d have already f—ing done it, okay? I’m taking it a day at a time,” Brady told Jim Gray during another Sirius XM appearance last week.
San Francisco emerges as betting favorite for Brady (Jan. 31)
If Brady wants to finish his football career where it first started, San Francisco is a perfect fit. He grew up in the Bay Area and idolized Joe Montana.
But beyond Brady’s childhood ties to San Francisco, the Niners make plenty of sense if the QB wants to try and win an eighth Super Bowl in 2023.
San Francisco, fresh off of losing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game Sunday, is the current betting favorite to sign Brady, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
San Francisco boasts arguably the most balanced roster in the league. But their QB situation is a mess. Third-string option Brock Purdy nearly led the team through the NFC, but the Iowa State product tore the UCL in his throwing elbow against the Eagles and is expected to miss six months.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a free agent and will likely play elsewhere in 2023. Trey Lance has only started four games in the NFL and is recovering from two procedures on his ankle.
If the win-now Niners want to put themselves over the top, adding Brady to an offense featuring the likes of Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel would be tough to stop.
NFL exec predicts a blockbuster trade will lead to Brady joining Niners (Jan. 30)
If Brady does want to play for the 49ers, San Francisco is going to have to reshuffle its banged-up QB corps.
One NFL executive told The Athletic’s Mike Sando that such a move shouldn’t be an issue.
“I think they will trade Trey Lance to Tennessee and then they will end up with Brady and Brady will play one year for his home team, and they will have Brock Purdy as the backup,” the exec told Sando. “That is the chatter. They have the defense already, Brady wants to win one more, and this is right up the 49ers’ alley.”
Brady remaining in Tampa is reportedly not off the table (Jan. 29)
The Niners’ dearth of options at quarterback has catapulted them into the driver’s seat for Brady. But NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo doesn’t believe that a fourth season in Tampa is out of the question for Brady if he wants to keep playing.
“My understanding is part of the conversation with the candidates is, ‘If Tom Brady returns, what would be your plan to get him back on track?’” Garafolo said on “NFL GameDay.” “So, I know a lot of folks are out there saying, ‘Well, Brady’s definitely done in Tampa.’
“Even Brady has said he doesn’t know what he’s going to do and the Buccaneers are keeping that option open and talking to those candidates to see what their plan would be if Brady returns in 2023 to improve him in the passing game.”
Rex Ryan floats Brady … to Washington? (Jan. 29)
Most of Brady’s rumored landing spots include the usual suspects of San Francisco, Vegas, and Tampa Bay.
But former Jets coach Rex Ryan went way off script with his prediction during ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” over the weekend.
“This is gonna be a crazy one, but I’m telling ya, watch the Washington Commanders in this,” Ryan said. “Here’s why I say it could happen. There’s a strong possibility that there’s going to be a change in ownership and when that happens, these owners aren’t tied into that coach. And to me, I can see a Sean Payton, Tom Brady…
“We talk about Miami, well it wasn’t just Miami contacting Brady, it was Sean Payton, it was going to be that marriage of those two. So, I could possibly see that down the road if he doesn’t sign with the Raiders immediately. I could see this as a possibility.”
Ryan’s musings were out there to begin with. But Payton is also no longer up for grabs, with the Broncos reportedly set to install him as head coach for the 2023 season.
Dolphins reportedly not pursuing Brady in free agency (Jan. 29)
One team reportedly out of the running for Brady is the Miami Dolphins, a team with plenty of links to the QB, beyond their numerous battles in the AFC East.
Miami violated the NFL’s anti-tampering policy three times between 2019 and 2022 due to conversations with Brady, leading to a loss of two draft picks, a $1.5 million fine, and a suspension for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Dolphins are “pleased with [Tua Tagovailoa’s] development” and will keep him in place at quarterback in 2023, even with his concussion issues.
Devin McCourty makes his pitch for New England, later predicts Titans (Jan. 22)
If Brady wanted his NFL career to go full circle and end with another season in Foxborough, Devin McCourty might be along for the ride.
“I think for Tom, it’s figuring it out — and he said that. He’s going to take some time,” McCourty said when asked on NFL Network about Brady’s plans.” “What do I want him to do? Go back to New England. I’ll go back too, if he goes.”
Later in his TV spot, McCourty predicted that Brady will team up with Mike Vrabel in Tennessee.
“What I think he’s going to do? He’s going to keep playing. I think a team like the Titans, he has [Mike] Vrabel down there that he played with,” McCourty said. “It’s not too far from his family being on the east coast, different than going all the way out to Vegas. I know Josh McDaniels is there, but you go to Tennessee and [they have a] great running back, good defense, they’ll get some more weapons in there for him to throw the ball to. I can see Tom right there, continuing his great career.”
Brady’s Bucs teammates believe he’s done in Tampa (Jan. 21)
Media and fans are apparently not the only ones speculating that Brady’s time in Tampa is ending this spring.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, several Buccaneers players believe that Brady will leave Tampa Bay this offseason based “on their final interactions” with the QB. Rapoport added that one player told him that he’d “be surprised if he’s back,” while another player said, “He sounded like a person saying goodbye for good.”
Julian Edelman: ‘It’s not going to be in Tampa Bay’ (Jan. 18)
After a 2022 season marred with offensive dysfunction and off-the-field distractions, Julian Edelman expects his former QB to close the book on his time in Tampa Bay.
“If he has another season, it’s not going to be in Tampa Bay,” Edelman said during a new episode of “Inside the NFL” on Paramount+. “Tom is a businessman. He’s going to do exactly what he did when he left New England. He’s going to go to the best situation that helps him win.”
Rob Gronkowski: ‘I would 100% be surprised if he went back to New England’ (Jan. 18)
With Bill O’Brien taking the reins of New England’s offense, the Patriots seem committed to getting Mac Jones back on track after an underwhelming 2022 season.
But early odds out of Vegas tabbed New England as a potential suitor for Brady in free agency. As dramatic as a return to Gillette Stadium would be, Rob Gronkowski isn’t buying it.
“I would 100% be surprised if he went back to New England, no doubt,” Gronkowski said during an appearance on the “New Heights” podcast with Travis and Jason Kelce.
“It would be nuts, it would be a crazy story, but I just really don’t see that happening. But you never know. “I’m not Tom, I’m just putting my analyzing skills out there, and I think that would be a tough shot for him to go back to New England. But it’s open.”
Buccaneers open as betting favorites to retain Brady in 2023 (Jan. 17)
Brady’s final press conference in Tampa Bay felt like a farewell. But the oddsmakers out in Vegas disagreed.
DraftKings Sportsbook’s first look at next-team odds for Brady in 2023 had the Buccaneers as the betting favorite at +200. The Raiders (+250) and 49ers (+350) were right behind Tampa, while both the Patriots and Dolphins were tied at +750.
NFL insider lists 3 potential landing spots for Brady (Jan. 16)
It didn’t take very long for speculation to begin on Brady’s next stop after the Bucs’ season ended.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport offered up three potential destinations for Brady during a spot for “NFL GameDay”.
“Tom Brady is a free agent after the season,” Rapoport said. He’ll be 46 years old and I would say there’s a chance that he does not return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite the fact that they very much want him back and plan to make efforts toward that.
“Among the teams that would consider Brady — a couple of them considered Brady last time. The Tennessee Titans still have some quarterback questions. The 49ers if they do not decide to roll with Brock Purdy, although he’s certainly stating his case. And then the Las Vegas Raiders, who have several of his old friends including Josh McDaniels.”
CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones echoed Rapoport’s sentiments about the Raiders’ expected pursuit of Brady.
“Brady is going to be a free agent, and folks around the league don’t see him staying in Tampa,” Jones said. “The Raiders are going to trade or release Derek Carr by mid-February, and the Raiders think Brady is a ‘program-changer’ just like he was in Tampa when he arrived.”
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