Tom Brady Not Ruling Out Comeback

Joe Flacco managed to win Comeback Player of the Year acclaim despite not debuting for the Browns until December. This came as Tom Brady, who memorably backtracked on his first retirement in 2022, remained out of the game. The all-time great, once again, may be waffling on being fully retired.

Appearing on an episode of DeepCut with VicBlends, Brady said he “wouldn’t be opposed to” coming back in the right situation. Given the number of quarterbacks that went down last season, opportunities opened last year. Brady’s hometown 49ers also extended an invitation for him to sign last year — a situation that would have seen the 46-year-old icon mentor Brock Purdy — but he declined.

I’m not opposed to it,” Brady said of another comeback, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “I don’t know if they’re going to let me, if I become an owner of an NFL team, I don’t know. I’m always going to be in good shape, always going to be able to throw the ball. So, to come in for a little bit, like MJ coming back, I don’t know if they’d let me, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it.”

This response came after Brady was asked a question about a Flacco-type return to join a contender who lost its starting QB late in a season. Set to start his high-priced contract as FOX’s lead game analyst, Brady has also seen the NFL stall his path to becoming a Raiders minority owner. This situation has been delayed for nearly a year. Brady agreed to buy a stake in the Raiders in May 2023, but owners have yet to approve him as a part-owner of the AFC West club. Brady’s FOX affiliation, and the price Mark Davis set for him to buy in, have represented hurdles here. Progress emerged on this front in February, but the matter remained unresolved at last month’s owners’ meetings.

Brady passed on the 49ers, who certainly offered just about as good of a situation as there was last season, so it would be interesting to see just what would pique his interest about a second unretirement. The 23-year veteran mentioned the Patriots and Raiders as teams he could potentially play for. Neither brings anything close to the roster strength last year’s 49ers edition supplied. When asked about playing in 2023 last June, Brady said he was “certain” he was done playing. Nearly a year later, it does not appear that is the case.

Brady’s 2022 season did not match the quality he submitted in 2021 — a second-team All-Pro campaign — or late in 2020, when his improved play rallied the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl LV title. But he was certainly a starter-caliber passer at age 45. The seven-time Super Bowl champion being out of the league for a year and being set to turn 47 before next season would stand to make teams skittish, as there is no track record of a non-specialist playing at that age. As Brady’s ownership path may be stalled, he has not so subtly reopened the door about playing yet another season.

Citing Michael Jordan’s early-2000s Washington Wizards comeback as a player/owner, Brady attempted to pull off this double with the Dolphins in 2022. That brought consequences for the AFC East franchise, which was docked first- and third-round picks for tampering with Brady and Sean Payton that year. It would seem easier for Brady if he put the ownership matter on hold and agreed to return — a decision that would again shake up FOX’s plans — but it does not appear he is ready to do that. Brady is already a part-owner of Davis’ WNBA franchise (the Las Vegas Aces).

While Flacco made a successful comeback in Cleveland, he was in the NFL (and in his 30s) in 2022. The 49ers, however, also had loose plans to sign Philip Rivers had they made a miraculous comeback in the 2022 NFC championship game. Rivers retired after the 2020 season; a re-emergence after Purdy’s UCL tear in Super Bowl LVII would have involved the ex-Chargers and Colts QB returning in the emergency circumstance at age 41. Brady changing his mind again at 47 would add another chapter to his historically unique legacy. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a legitimate storyline going forward.

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