Tom Brady

Brady: ‘I’m Certain I’m Not Playing Again’

With Tom Brady agreeing to buy a piece of the Raiders and the team’s new quarterback — Jimmy Garoppolo — recovering from another surgery, understandable speculation regarding another Brady unretirement has emerged. The all-time great is again attempting to dispel notions he is coming back.

During a recent interview with SI Now’s Robin Lundberg, the former Patriots and Buccaneers quarterback confirmed he is retired. Brady has announced retirements in each of the past two years. While he backtracked on his initial NFL exit in March 2022, the 23-year veteran has remained retired this year and insists he is done.

I’m certain I’m not playing again,” Brady said (video link). “I’ve tried to make that clear. I hate to continue to profess that, because I’ve already told people that lots of times. But I’m looking forward to my broadcasting job at FOX next year. I’m looking forward to the opportunity ahead with the Raiders.”

Brady, 45, added he is in the process of finalizing the Raiders agreement. Part-owner of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, Brady is set to serve in a similar capacity with Mark Davis‘ flagship franchise. NFL owners must approve Brady’s ownership stake by a three-fourths majority. While that majority vote exists for Brady’s ownership stake, a unanimous vote would be required for him to serve simultaneously as an owner/player.

This topic came up during the period in which Brady was connected to serving as a Dolphins owner/player. The NFL came down hard on Miami for its tampering effort involving Brady and Sean Payton, docking the franchise first- and third-round picks and suspending owner Stephen Ross. A year later, the QB icon is planning to enter the ownership ranks with another team.

A comeback with the Raiders certainly would make sense, were Brady interested in a Brett Favre-esque second unretirement. Brady spent many seasons working with current Raiders HC Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator, with GM Dave Ziegler also in New England during part of Brady’s 20-year tenure. Garoppolo, Brady’s backup from 2014 until an October 2017 trade exit, underwent surgery on his fractured foot in March.

The latest Garoppolo surgery came to light just last week, and the Raiders reworked his three-year contract to protect themselves against their preferred QB1’s foot injury keeping him off the field. The Raiders also may be in need of another backup option, with ex-Brady backup Brian Hoyer — ahead of his age-38 season — and fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell in place behind Garoppolo. Before Brady announced his retirement for a second time, the Raiders looked into the ex-McDaniels charge as a free agent. That door appears closed.

Brady said earlier this year he would not begin his FOX analyst job until 2024, keeping Greg Olsen in that chair for the time being. In 2022, FOX gave Brady a 10-year, $375MM deal to work as its No. 1 NFL analyst. Given his star power and the Raiders’ situation, this might not be the last time the seven-time Super Bowl winner needs to insist he will remain retired. But Brady is moving forward in ownership and broadcasting roles.

Raiders Reworked Jimmy Garoppolo’s Deal; Tom Brady Not Realistic Emergency Option?

While Derek Carr did not exactly bring a high ceiling at quarterback for the Raiders, the nine-year starter is one of the NFL’s most durable quarterbacks. Carr missed two regular-season games (and one playoff contest) due to injury with the Raiders. Las Vegas’ plan to replace Carr is not off to a great start.

Shortly after Jimmy Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal, he underwent surgery to repair the fractured foot he sustained in early December. Faint hopes had kept the door narrowly ajar for a Garoppolo return for Super Bowl LVII, which would have been as a backup given Brock Purdy‘s stunning production, so the new Raiders QB being sidelined likely until training camp raised a red flag. The Raiders ended up making a change to protect themselves.

A delay between Garoppolo’s free agency agreement and the signing of the contract commenced in March. In that time, the Raiders inserted a clause that will offer them protection in the event Garoppolo cannot pass a physical, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. This addendum gives the Raiders an out in the event the left foot injury keeps Garoppolo off the field, and it converted $11.25MM from roster bonus to base salary.

Garoppolo’s reported agreement featured $33.75MM guaranteed at signing. The $11.25MM bonus — due on Day 3 of the 2024 league year — comprised part of that total. Garoppolo’s other guaranteed cash comes from a $22.5MM 2023 base salary, which the Raiders will only be on the hook for if Garoppolo passes a physical. To some degree, their situation resembles a fifth-year option setup during the period in which the options were guaranteed for injury only. But teams could only cut those former first-rounders free of charge if said player passed a physical a year later; Garoppolo failing his opens the door to a free-of-charge Raiders release.

This reality would introduce significant concerns for Las Vegas, which dumped Carr for one of the NFL’s most injury-prone players. Garoppolo has missed 33 games due to injury since suffering an ACL tear in September 2018 and has only finished two of his past five seasons. In the two Garoppolo did complete, he started Super Bowl LIV and piloted the 49ers to the 2021 NFC championship game. But calf, thumb and shoulder injuries — the latter two requiring surgeries — affected him during the latter season. At 31 and coming off three straight injury-plagued years, Garoppolo is certainly a poor bet to make it through this season unscathed.

On the other side of this, Garoppolo passing a physical removes the clause from the equation, The Athletic’s Tashan Reed and Vic Tafur report (subscription required). Josh McDaniels, who coached Garoppolo in New England from 2014-17, said everything is on schedule for the 10th-year veteran, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore indicating the team believes the clause will be moot (Twitter link).

A window exists for the Raiders to release Garoppolo before he passes his physical. Of course, they would be doing so with limited options at the position. The team has used offseason addition Brian Hoyer as its first-stringer during OTAs thus far, per The Athletic, though the 37-year-old passer is far past his prime and would invite obvious questions about the Raiders’ competitive viability this season. The Raiders attempted to keep Jarrett Stidham, but he signed with the Broncos to be Russell Wilson‘s backup. The team hosted the draft’s top five QB prospects and discussed a trade for the No. 1 pick with the Bears. But the Raiders did not make their QB move until the fourth round (Aidan O’Connell). The ex-Purdue arm is viewed as a developmental player.

Carson Wentz stands as the top passer available, and new Raiders pass-game coordinator Scott Turner did coach Wentz as Commanders OC last season. Teddy Bridgewater resides as the other starter-caliber QB left in free agency. Ryan Tannehill could become an option, though the Titans making that move — one rumored earlier this year — could remove them from contention consideration this season.

Moving into elephant-in-the-room status by virtue of his agreement with Mark Davis to buy a piece of the Raiders, Tom Brady looms as well. But owners will need to approve the recently retired quarterback’s purchase. As was the case with the Brady-Dolphins rumors during his first retirement, they would be unlikely to do so if he returned to play. In fact, a league source informed Bonsignore that Brady’s Raiders stake could come with a provision he will only serve as an owner — and not a player — for the franchise.

The Raiders looked into Brady as a free agent — before retirement No. 2 — this offseason. Brady’s past with McDaniels would make him the top emergency solution for the Raiders, even ahead of an age-46 season. But owners were unlikely to approve Miami’s long-rumored Brady plan in which he would have served as a player and owner. Twenty-four “yes” votes will be required for Brady to buy a piece of the Raiders. That could be contingent on the 23-year veteran staying retired. Were Brady dead-set on making a second comeback, he could simply back out of his ownership agreement.

Absent that long-shot solution, the Raiders will need to hope Garoppolo can put finish his latest rehab effort. But the team’s quarterback stability has taken a substantial hit this offseason.

Tom Brady Agrees To Buy Stake In Raiders

Less than four months after Tom Brady‘s second retirement, the legendary quarterback is close to becoming part of a new team — as a part-owner. The rumored Raiders connection will produce an agreement.

Brady agreed to buy a stake in the AFC West franchise, according to’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). The 23-year veteran passer already went into a partnership with Raiders owner Mark Davis, buying a stake in the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces franchise last year. This does prompt a few questions, but Brady does look set to join the ownership ranks soon.

This agreement will be subject to NFL approval, and Breer adds this piece of business will not be on the owners’ agenda at this week’s league meetings. It would seem likely Brady, 45, agreeing to purchase a presumably small stake in the Raiders will be approved, though it does raise questions about potential objectivity regarding his FOX agreement. Brady signed a 10-year, $375MM deal to become FOX’s No. 1 analyst last year, but the former Patriots and Buccaneers QB said — following retirement No. 2 — he will table that career path to 2024.

Brady’s involvement in the ownership ranks comes just more than a year after this potential foray created considerable trouble for the Dolphins. The rumored Brady path to Miami as a part-owner and presumptive quarterback, in a package deal with Sean Payton, ended up costing the Dolphins their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-rounder. Owner Stephen Ross incurred a suspension for his involvement in a multiyear tampering scheme involving Brady.

Monday’s agreement certainly opens the door to the possibility — however remote it might be — of Brady coming out of retirement and playing for the Raiders. This scenario could conceivably affect a potential vote on Brady’s status as a part-owner. Any rumors on this front would lead to Raiders salary cap questions — something a Brady ownership role with the team obviously would not — but Brady obviously has a longstanding relationship with Josh McDaniels and overlapped with GM Dave Ziegler during part of his New England tenure.

While this is not yet a scenario worth discussing in much detail, the Raiders signed ex-Brady backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who has become one of the league’s most injury-prone QBs since leaving the Patriots, and backstopped him with another former Brady QB2 — Brian Hoyer. Las Vegas’ backup will turn 38 this season. Fourth-rounder Aidan O’Connell is positioned as a developmental arm. Should Brady come out of retirement again, Vegas would certainly seem the venue. Unlike last year, when the Bucs held Brady’s rights, the 15-time Pro Bowler is a free agent after playing out his Tampa Bay deal.

The Raiders did pursue Brady as a player during his 2020 free agency but backed out before the finalist stage. Brady famously broached this topic during an appearance on HBO’s The Shop. They also were loosely linked to him this year, with a January report indicating they were doing homework on Garoppolo and Brady. The latter’s retirement took a big-ticket option off the table for the Raiders and other teams in free agency, and Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal in March.

Greg Olsen will spend at least one more season as FOX’s top analyst, and it will be interesting to see how Brady’s ownership agreement — if approved by the NFL — affects matters on that front. For now, the owners will consider Brady’s Raiders stake. But it appears the seven-time Super Bowl winner is close to returning to the league in a different capacity.

49ers To Consider Veteran QB Addition

Kyle Shanahan said last month the 49ers were unlikely to add a veteran quarterback to pair with their injured young passers. The organizational thinking may have changed in the weeks since.

Brock Purdy has not yet undergone his UCL surgery, which had been scheduled for last week before swelling led to its delay. Trey Lance underwent two procedures on his broken ankle. Jimmy Garoppolo is a free agent who is, despite the team circling back to its previous starter at the 11th hour last year, almost definitely departing in free agency.

This setup stands to both give Lance extensive offseason reps, which will be useful for a uniquely unseasoned prospect, and thin out the QB depth for a team that saw both its active-roster passers go down during the NFC championship game. John Lynch said (via the San Jose Mercury News’ Cam Inman, on Twitter) the 49ers “may have to look into the veteran quarterback market” as a protection measure.

Lynch was more diplomatic than Shanahan regarding another Garoppolo deal. After the seventh-year 49ers HC said he could not foresee any scenario in which the veteran QB returned, Lynch said the relationship has “probably run its course.” Garoppolo will be expected to price himself out of San Francisco’s range. The team had planned to carry the Purdy and Lance rookie deals into the offseason, allowing for big spending elsewhere. That still looks to be the blueprint here, but a host of midlevel or backup-type veterans will be available for the contending team. It depends on what role the 49ers want to fill.

If the 49ers merely will seek a practice-level passer to spell Lance at points this offseason, system arms Nick Mullens and Josh Johnson are available. The team wanting a true backup option would open the door to the likes of Case Keenum, Mason Rudolph, Blaine Gabbert, Chase Daniel, Cooper Rush or Taylor Heinicke. A host of bridge-type starter options are also available. It should not be ruled out the 49ers would consider the Baker MayfieldAndy DaltonSam DarnoldJacoby Brissett tier, given Purdy’s uncertain timetable and Lance’s inconsistency and injury past.

Lance is expected to be ready for OTAs. While Purdy is viewed as the likely starter, he is facing a lengthy rehab — one that could still include Tommy John surgery. That reconstructive procedure would sideline him to start the season. As of now, the 49ers’ goal remains for Purdy to be back in time for Week 1. Lance said during a recent appearance on the Rich Eisen Show he just wants a chance to compete (video link). The North Dakota State alum will have an interesting opportunity ahead, as the 49ers were preparing to go with him last year before his ankle setback. It will be interesting to see if the unpolished prospect can mount a serious challenge to Purdy thanks to a spring an summer of first-team reps.

Lynch responded to question pertaining to interest in Tom Brady by indicating the retired passer sent him a thumbs-up emoji when the GM texted him congrats on his legendary career. Unlike last year, Brady will be a free agent. The 49ers have been linked to the Bay Area native during a few offseasons under Lynch. Considering Brady was connected to wanting to play for his hometown team during his short retirement last year — a scenario the Buccaneers did not entertain — a free agency pact figures to come up. But Brady would not qualify as a Lance mentor; he would be stepping in to start. That would represent a strange scenario for Purdy.

But the 49ers still have one of the NFL’s best rosters. If Purdy is viewed as needing regular-season time to recover, Lance will need to be readier compared to what he showed in 2021 or ’22. If the 49ers do not view the former No. 3 overall pick as progressing this offseason, rumblings of a second Brady unretirement would be difficult to suppress.

Tom Brady Announces Retirement

FEBRUARY 10: Brady filed a retirement letter Friday, Adam Schefter of tweets. Another comeback could certainly commence, but this decision will sting the Bucs ahead of free agency. Brady’s $35.1MM in dead money will accelerate onto the Bucs’ 2023 cap. Tampa Bay, which went to the void-years well with Brady again in 2022, will be free of this contract after 2023. But the team is $55MM-plus over the cap presently.

FEBRUARY 1: Exactly a year from the date he initially announced he would retire, Tom Brady again informed the Buccaneers he will walk away from the game. The legendary quarterback said Wednesday morning he will call it quits after 23 seasons (video link).

Although Brady backtracked on his Feb. 1, 2022 decision, he said recently another retirement call would be final. The 45-year-old superstar had already been linked to a few teams as a free agent, but it does not appear he was planning to leave Tampa. For months, Brady had indicated to confidants he would either play a fourth season with the Bucs or walk away, Jeff Darlington of reports (on Twitter). Brady informed Bucs brass at 6am Wednesday he would take the retirement route.

Family considerations will drive Brady’s second retirement decision, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Brady had long set an age-45 season as a goal, and while even that seemed a difficult milestone to hit, the former sixth-round Patriots draft choice got there and did so without displaying a significant decline. While the decision to unretire in March 2022 produced a wave of headlines and preceded an 8-9 Bucs season — one that ended with a blowout wild-card loss to the Cowboys — Brady still broke his own single-season NFL record for completions. The enduring great has just about every other passing standard on his resume, one that will be difficult for future quarterbacks to eclipse.

Last year’s retirement decision did not emerge from Brady himself, but rather from reports indicating he was departing after two Bucs seasons. Brady subsequently made a retirement announcement. Given Brady’s unmatched career and relentless desire to succeed on the field, even this exit cannot completely be labeled his definitive NFL walk-off. But the seven-time Super Bowl champion did add “for good” to his brief address this time.

I’m retiring for good. I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady said. “So I won’t be long-winded. I think you only get one super-emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year.”

A recent Darlington report (video link) indicated two teams were looking into Brady as a free agent. He was set to hit the market for a second time in March. A Josh McDaniels reunion with the Raiders came up weeks ago, and speculation of Brady wrapping his career with his hometown 49ers intensified following Brock Purdy‘s UCL tear. The fact that teams were investigating Brady to be their starter in what would have been an age-46 season illustrates the staggering endurance the former Patriots cornerstone showed. The Michigan alum’s place as the greatest NFL player ever can be debated, but he displayed preposterous longevity that allowed for considerable distance to form between he and his peers in the record book.

Brady’s 89,214 career passing yards lead the field by more than 8,000; his 649 touchdown passes are 78 more than Drew Brees‘ second-place total. Playing in an astonishing 48 playoff games, Brady threw 88 postseason TD passes as well. He finished his career as a three-time MVP and five-time Super Bowl MVP. The last of those Super Bowl honors came for the Bucs two seasons ago, when his two-year, $50MM contract produced an immediate turnaround in Tampa. Brady then signed an extension, adding the 2022 season to his deal. Rather than attempt to walk away on a higher note, Brady following a tumultuous season with another retirement announcement will prompt a second Bucs quarterback search in two years.

Following Brady’s unretirement, the Bucs attempted to reload again. Prior to Brady’s third Tampa Bay season, however, steady reports of Miami connections emerged. The NFL then sanctioned the Dolphins for tampering for their effort to try and secure a Brady-Sean Payton alliance. The Dolphins are without a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder as a result. Bruce Arians surprised most with his latest retirement — a March move many connected to a Brady power play — days after the Bucs learned their quarterback was staying. While Arians shot down that notion on multiple occasions, Brady headlines kept coming. Several weeks after Brady’s divorce from wife Gisele Bundchen became official, Darlington revealed the ageless signal-caller played the 2022 season down 15 pounds from his usual playing weight.

Brady left Bucs training camp, staying away from the team for more than a week. While he returned to the team and powered the Bucs to another NFC South title, this Tampa Bay edition fell from second to 25th offensively and rarely found the form it displayed during the previous two seasons. Todd Bowles fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich last month, after both Bowles and Brady voiced issues about the state of the offense, and the team continues to search for the four-year play-caller’s successor.

Like Peyton Manning‘s Broncos stay, Brady’s Bucs years tacked on considerable legacy points. But Brady will obviously be best remembered for his Patriots stay. After Drew Bledsoe’s injury in Week 2 of the 2001 season thrust Brady into action, he remained in place as New England’s starter through the 2019 season. Brady led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles and formed an unrivaled partnership with Bill Belichick. While the future Hall of Fame coach’s defenses drove the first batch of Pats titles, Brady was in place as the team’s centerpiece for the next six Super Bowls for which it qualified.

The No. 199 overall pick in 2000, Brady is without question the greatest draft choice in NFL history. The Pats were able to extend their dynasty for nearly two decades, reloading around Brady for a second run of Super Bowl titles midway through the 2010s. That period peaked with a 25-point comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, which gave Brady more championships than any other passer in the Super Bowl era.

After Belichick and Robert Kraft‘s reported disagreement on Jimmy Garoppolo led to the then-backup’s 2017 move to San Francisco at the trade deadline, Brady continued to move the boundaries at his position. He quarterbacked the Pats to two more Super Bowls, winning the latter, before a final contract agreement in 2019. That pact prevented the team from franchise-tagging its quarterback, and rather than Brady agreeing to a ninth contract with the team, he hit free agency. Numerous teams showed interest in 2020, but Brady decided on the Bucs over the Chargers that year. Tampa Bay voyaged to its second Super Bowl — a 31-9 romp over Kansas City — after Brady paired with a strong Bucs defensive nucleus to provide an upgrade on Jameis Winston to elevate his new team.

The Bucs’ next QB search figures to be a less flashy process. The team is more than $55MM over the $224.8MM salary cap, and the bills from the void years it utilized to bolster the roster during the Brady run are coming. Brady can help the team by re-signing for procedural purposes; that would allow the Bucs to spread out a $35.1MM dead-money hit over two years and create $24MM in cap space for 2023. Of course, Brady doing that, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, would affect his ability to unretire and sign elsewhere. Brady was connected to other teams during his brief 2022 retirement, but the then-Arians-led Bucs refused to trade his rights during that period.

Bowles already informed Bucs coaches the team was unlikely to be especially active on the market, but the team will now need to replace its quarterback. Entering the mid-February Derek Carr market may now become a consideration, while pursuing Garoppolo — which would make for an apt Brady succession strategy — would also make sense.

Tom Brady Addresses Retirement Decision, Broadcasting Future

For the second – and what is widely expected to be final – time, Tom Brady announced his retirement last week. That move came as little surprise given the uncertainty which surrounded his playing future during the campaign and his brief time spent as an ex-player last winter.

When speaking on FOX Sports’ The Herd, Brady addressed his retirement decision and the timing of his announcement (video link). He expanded on his desire to move on to the next chapter of his life away from football, and the finality of his announcement that his playing days are indeed over for good.

“I think for me, I know in my heart how I feel. I put it out on the field for 23 years and I’m super proud of what’s been accomplished… I just wanted to keep last week really short and sweet and I felt like I’ve given a lot, I’ve gained a lot. I’ve learned a lot. And life is about, you know, exciting things ahead. I think when one thing closes, like football has for me, you know 32 years of my life and it’s hard to make decisions like that but it’s certainly the right time” (Twitter links via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times).

Last offseason, it became known that the seven-time Super Bowl winner had a 10-year, $375MM deal in place with FOX to become the network’s lead color commentator. With his playing days now over, many expected that Brady would be in line to begin his new career during the 2023 season. He announced today, however, that he will not step into the broadcast booth until 2024.

Brady indicated (via Stroud, on Twitter) that he is “good with a little bit of uncertainty” with respect to his immediate future. He will spend much of the coming months with family, but also in preparation for taking on the No. 1 role at FOX as an analyst. That title currently belongs to former tight end Greg Olsen, who will be a key figure in the network’s broadcast of the upcoming Super Bowl. Brady’s announcement points to Olsen having one more year in his current position, while the former takes a year to fully move on from his most recent football chapter and prepare for the next one.

Dolphins Not Eyeing Tom Brady Addition?

One of several names set to dominate the QB storylines of the 2023 offseason is Tom Brady. The all-time great is a pending free agent who faces a number of possible options should he choose to continue his playing career.

One of those could be a move to Miami, something which has come close to taking place in the past. The Dolphins were involved in a tampering scandal in an unsuccessful attempt to land both he and head coach Sean Payton. That led to a number of punishments being handed down by the league, including the team forfeiting its first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Despite that, the Dolphins were said to be a potential suitor for him in 2023.

Momentum for a Brady-to-Miami contract does not appear to exist at this point, however. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Dolphins “are not expected to pursue” the 45-year-old in the event he hits the open market for the second time in his career. Brady helped the Buccaneers make the playoffs for the third straight year in his tenure there, but signs have pointed since their Wild-Card loss to him not returning to Tampa Bay.

While that certainly leaves the door open to a second retirement decision (one which the seven-time Super Bowl winner has said would be final, unlike his last one), it could also lead him elsewhere in free agency. The Raiders have quickly emerged as a logical landing spot for him, given the presence of Josh McDaniels and the team’s apparent desire to move on from Derek Carr. Earlier this month, it was reported that Vegas is doing their homework on Brady, amongst other QB options.

Miami has given Tua Tagovailoa a vote of confidence heading into the 2023 season, so it would come as little surprise if the team avoided making a big splash on the QB market. A veteran insurance policy is expected as a backup, given his concussion issues that arose this year, but the former top-five pick showed considerable improvement when healthy this season. Even if Miami is out of the running, Brady is likely to sill have multiple suitors in the coming weeks.

Latest On Buccaneers’ Staff Changes, Free Agency Plans

The Buccaneers are on the lookout for a new offensive coordinator, with Byron Leftwich being the highest-profile coach the team moved on from amid a spree of dismissals and retirements last week. Both Todd Bowles and Tom Brady voiced concerns about Leftwich last season.

Bowles and Brady complained about the offense’s predictability, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud, who adds the team’s lack of commitment to the run game was one of the issues. Bowles believed teams had caught onto Leftwich’s offense, which tumbled off its elite perch of previous years, and Brady problems with the offense emerged back in December.

Tampa Bay finished 25th in scoring, and although it ranked 15th in total offense, a last-place ground attack dragged down the latter number. The Bucs ranked 32nd across the board on the ground, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and totaling just five rushing touchdowns. The Bucs went from 61 TDs in 2021 to 31 this season. Leonard Fournette‘s three-year, $21MM deal produced just 668 rushing yards (3.5 per tote) in 16 games. Much of these woes can be attributed to the changes to Tampa Bay’s interior offensive line, which lost all three of its previous starters — Ryan Jensen (injury), Ali Marpet (retirement), Alex Cappa (free agency) — to lead to lesser replacements creating problems for Brady and the run game. Brady showing signs of decline did not help matters for Leftwich, either.

But Leftwich and other Bruce Arians-hired staffers took the fall. Arians is not pleased with what happened last week, Stroud said during a WDAE Radio interview (via The three-year Bucs HC, who gave the keys to Bowles in a surprising move last March, is “disappointed” and “hurt” his successor canned several of his staffers. Those assistants, some of whom having additional years on their contracts, had been told they would be there as long as Bowles was, per Stroud. Of course, NFL teams’ plans change rapidly. And an 8-9 season was not exactly where the Bucs thought they would be given their performances in 2020 and ’21. Bowles figures to enter the 2023 season on the hot seat. Arians spent the season as a senior advisor to Jason Licht, though he admitted late in the season he missed coaching.

As Bowles gathered his staff for a postmortem Thursday morning — prior to informing Leftwich and Co. they were being fired — he mentioned the team would have a difficult time signing free agents, per Stroud. The Bucs are nearly in Saints territory in terms of cap space, ranking ahead of only their restructure-happy rivals around the league. As of Wednesday, Tampa Bay sits $54MM-plus over the projected 2023 cap. The Bucs have been active in free agency over the past two years, mostly via re-signings. But the team had brought back a number of its top free agents — from Jensen to Carlton Davis in 2022 to Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David and Rob Gronkowski in 2021 — during Brady’s stay.

Following that meeting, Bowles called select assistants into his office to inform them of the dismissals. Despite the persistent run-game struggles, Bowles kept Arians hires Harold Goodwin (run-game coordinator) and Joe Gilbert (O-line coach). The team had discussions with Bill O’Brien as a Leftwich contingency plan last year, in the event the latter landed the Jacksonville HC job. O’Brien was Brady’s OC (or de facto OC, as the Patriots sometimes do not do coordinator titles) for three seasons, but he is now back with the Pats.

The Bucs have begun their OC search, with a few candidates surfacing Tuesday. While Leftwich’s ouster may influence Brady in free agency, the early word coming out of Tampa is the 45-year-old superstar will explore other options if he is to play a 24th season.

Latest On Tom Brady’s Future With The Buccaneers

It remains to be seen where (or if) Tom Brady will play in 2023. However, several Buccaneers players believe the quarterback definitely won’t be back in Tampa Bay. Speaking to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Bucs players said their “final interactions” with Brady this season led them to believe that the signal-caller won’t be back in Tampa next year.

[RELATED: Buccaneers To Fire OC Byron Leftwich]

One player told Rapoport that he’d be “surprised if [Brady’s] back,” while another said the QB “sounded like a person saying goodbye for good.” Brady also seemed to bid farewell to the media during his final press conference, another indication that he’d likely be heading elsewhere.

Sources tell Rapoport that Brady is going “to head into his few weeks of decision-making time with an open mind.” The future Hall of Famer will spend time with family while he considers all of his options. While re-signing with Tampa Bay has to be included on the list of options, it’s sounding increasingly more likely that Brady will either sign elsewhere or hang up his cleats (at which time he has a lucrative deal with Fox Sports waiting for him).

Brady went as far as to announce his retirement last offseason before reversing course and returning for another campaign. Some thought Brady’s initial retirement was an attempt to force his way out of Tampa Bay, but whether it was a change of heart of the Buccaneers’ unwillingness to budge, the QB ended up returning for a third season with the organization. It was a tough year for the Buccaneers offense, leading to offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich‘s ouster following the team’s opening-round playoff loss.

A number of teams have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Brady. The Dolphins could make another run at the QB after the organization was punished for their previous pursuit. Brady could look to reunite with former OC Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas or with former teammate Mike Vrabel in Tennessee, and rumors of a move back home to San Francisco will continue to persist.

Dolphins A Potential Suitor For Tom Brady?

Tom Brady-to-Miami is back on the table. A source “with general knowledge of the various dynamics regarding all things Brady” told Mike Florio of that a move to the Dolphins is “definitely on the table.”

This obviously isn’t the first time that Brady has been connected to the organization. Miami’s previous pursuit of the quarterback led to a tampering scandal that resulted in significant penalties for the organization and their owner, Stephen Ross. Either way, the Dolphins clearly had Brady’s ear as they looked to team the future Hall of Famer with head coach Sean Payton. Thanks in part to Brian Flores’ discrimination lawsuit against the Dolphins, that plan was scrapped, and following a brief retirement, Brady ended back in Tampa Bay.

The 45-year-old will hit free agency this offseason, providing no barriers to him joining the Dolphins. As opposed to his last trip to free agency, Brady should have more than a couple of teams competing for his services. It remains to be seen if Brady would still be interested in moving to Miami, but among the hypothetical suitors, they’d make sense from a roster standpoint.

Another major part of this story revolves around current Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. If the Dolphins do land Brady, Florio said it’s uncertain if the Dolphins would move on from Tua or if they’d keep him as a backup. If the organization can find another team that would “assume the concussion risks,” then the incumbent QB would be a natural trade candidate. His $4.7MM financial commitment in 2023 certainly isn’t a concern for the Dolphins or any trade suitors, so either route wouldn’t be overly surprising.

Brady’s third season in Tampa Bay saw him complete 66.8 percent of his passes for 4,694 yards, 25 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Despite an 8-9 record, the Buccaneers qualified for the postseason. Tagovailoa, meanwhile, guided the Dolphins to an 8-5 record in 13 starts, tossing a career-high 25 touchdowns vs. only eight interceptions. He won’t start their Wild Card matchup against the Bills as he continues to sit in concussion protocol.