Tom Brady

Latest On Tom Brady-Bruce Arians Relationship, Dolphins Interest

Tom Brady has been a central figure in a number of offseason storylines, including not only his brief retirement. In remarks he made earlier this month, he commented on two of the most notable storylines involving his decision to keep playing for at least one more season. 

One of those is the reported rift between himself and former head coach Bruce Arians. Growing disagreements between the two, many believe, led to the latter’s retirement, allowing Todd Bowles to take over on the sidelines. Arians himself has denied that sentiment, recently stating that he would have delayed his decision to step aside had he known Brady was coming back for at least the 2022 campaign.

When asked about the presence of tension between the two, Brady similarly said, via ESPN’s Jenna Laine, that there was “zero whatsoever.” He continued, “he and I have a great relationship. Part of the reason I chose here was because of Bruce… I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him – that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”

Another major storyline is that of the deal believed to have been in place which would have sent Brady to Miami as the quarterback of a Dolphins team coached by Sean Payton. Brady offered a more vague response when asked about that situation, saying, “I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people. I’ve had for the last three or four years of my career, about different opportunities when I’m done playing football… I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do, and [where] I’ll get to be in the game of football.”

The reported Miami arrangement has become a moot point for 2022 at the very least, with Payton set to work at Fox Sports this season, just as Brady will when he retires for good. That will allow the latter to return his attention to the Buccaneers, as he aims for an eighth Super Bowl title.

Bruce Arians’ Retirement Decision Was Long Contemplated, Dependent On Tom Brady

One of the biggest storylines of this offseason’s coaching cycle wasn’t one of the many outside hires made around the league, but the internal succession plan enacted in Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians recently shed more light on the thought process that went in to his retirement decision. 

“It was 90 percent that [this] year would be my last, anyway” he said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Arians will turn 70 midway through the 2022 campaign, meaning that his coaching career was likely nearing an end in the very near future. However, he publicly stated that he wouldn’t retire this offseason in the aftermath of the Bucs’ playoff loss to the Rams.

Arians’ tenure in Tampa Bay spanned three years. It included a 31-18 record, and the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. His remarks pointed to a fourth campaign at the helm, but things began to change as early as March, Stroud notes. Working under the impression that Tom Brady had retired, Arians weighed the possibility of an unproven QB room against his desire to see defensive coordinator Todd Bowles succeed him.

“I was going the other way. I was thinking [Brady] wasn’t going to play,” he said. “Had Tom not come back, I probably would still be coaching. I couldn’t give Todd that situation.” 

Instead, Brady un-retired, leaving Arians free to step aside as HC. Doing so allowed him to keep both Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich – whom Stroud reports Arians “expected ” to each receive outside head coaching jobs – in Tampa Bay, along with Brady. Arians said that the continued presence of that triumvirate made it “the perfect time” for him to retire.

Now, the two-time Coach of the Year is set to work in Tampa Bay under the title of senior advisor to the general manager, which should grant him a similar role to the one he desired, but was denied, in Arizona in 2018. “I’ll be here every day once the season starts,” he said. “But I won’t have to be here every night.”

It remains to be seen what Arians plans to do after the 2022 season, but for at least the immediate future, the transition plan he envisioned is in place.

QB Notes: Brady, Lamar, Rudolph, Falcons

Although it has been more than two months since Tom Brady‘s unretirement, the Buccaneers were connected to other quarterback options for a fairly lengthy stretch this winter. Brady retired on Feb. 1 and decided to come back March 13, the Sunday ahead of the 2022 league year’s outset. Shortly after Brady recommitted, the Bucs re-signed Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis. Chris Godwin agreed to an extension, and Leonard Fournette returned to the fold. Outside additions like Russell Gage, Logan Ryan and Akiem Hicks have joined up as well, separating this offseason from 2021’s historic talent-retention effort. It is safe to say Tampa Bay’s free agency plan would have been different without Brady, who announced a return on that date despite being on the fence about playing again.

You know at this stage, it’s like 55% yes and 45% no,” Brady said during an interview with TNT’s Ernie Johnson (via the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud) of his mid-March stance on playing a 23rd season. “That’s just the reality. It’s not that I’m not 100% committed; it’s just as soon as I make the commitment to do it, it’s like ‘Ugh. All right, here we go.’ It’s like running a marathon. You can’t decide two weeks before the marathon, ‘Hey, I’m going to start running.’

We got right to free agency and I felt some pressure to do it and talked to the team and organization, and it all worked out.”

Brady’s decision almost certainly had an impact on the Bucs’ ensuing coaching change, and the 44-year-old passer has since signed a restructure agreement to help the Bucs add more talent this offseason. Here is the latest from the quarterback scene:

  • Lamar Jackson‘s second offseason of extension eligibility has been quieter than his first, and although the consensus thus far appears to be the Ravens quarterback will exit 2022 without a new deal, Albert Breer of SI.com envisions the parties coming to an agreement. Noting the trust between Jackson and the team remains strong, despite the QB’s OTAs absence and the three Ravens power brokers confirming the former MVP has not shown extension interest, Breer points to this and the fifth-year veteran’s desire to stay a Raven as reasons a deal will happen. Deshaun Watson‘s fully guaranteed deal undoubtedly complicates matters for the Ravens, who have Jackson on a $23MM cap number in his fifth-year option season.
  • With the Steelers likely to choose between Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett after the preseason, Mason Rudolph resides as an atypical third-string option. That points to the Steelers looking into trading their longtime backup, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic offers (subscription required). Unless Pickett proves unready to the point the Steelers need Rudolph as Trubisky’s backup, a trade before the team finalizes its 53-man roster could make sense. Rudolph signed a Steelers extension last year, before Trubisky and Pickett entered the equation. The Steelers would save $3MM by trading Rudolph, who is due for free agency in 2023.
  • The Falcons worked out multiyear Ball State starter Drew Plitt this week, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Plitt worked as the Mid-American Conference program’s primary starter from 2019-21, piecing together a 59-19 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio in that time. The Falcons have 2021 UDFA Feleipe Franks as their third QB currently, alongside Marcus Mariota and third-rounder Desmond Ridder.

NFL Injury Notes: McCaffrey, Texans, Young, Brady, 49ers

Since signing a deal that gave him the highest average salary of any running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey has missed 23 of 33 games. From a high ankle sprain to a shoulder injury to a hamstring injury and back around to his ankle again, McCaffrey has seen more than his fair share of the injured reserve. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, McCaffrey reached out for some help this offseason.

Among a few others, one of the players McCaffrey sought help from was Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, one of two players who share with McCaffrey the distinction of recording at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, the other being Roger Craig. Faulk was especially healthy later in his career despite having a tendency for a higher amount of total touches as a receiving back, his late health being a trait that McCaffrey would love to emulate.

Person reports that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule indicated McCaffrey would again be held out of the preseason and that the team is also looking into how they use their star during practice. McCaffrey, himself, has been tweaking his own offseason routine, in hopes of reversing his string of bad luck.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL, starting with two out of the Lone Star State:

  • From an interview with Texans head coach Lovie Smith, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that pass rusher Jonathan Greenard and safety Eric Murray will be ready to return to the field by the time training camp rolls around. Greenard, who led the team in sacks last season with 8.0, underwent foot surgery over the offseason. Murray had shoulder surgery after starting 11 games for Houston last year.
  • The Commanders are expecting former Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young to rejoin the team in the next couple of weeks, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. The young defensive end is coming off an ACL tear he suffered in a Week 10 game against the Buccaneers. Young was having a bit of a sophomore slump last year, only recording 1.5 sacks in nine games of action, but Washington will nonetheless be happy to reunite him with Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne in what may be the NFL’s best all-around pass rushing defensive line.
  • Although not a recent injury, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talked about the condition of his left knee in a call with Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times this week. Last offseason saw Brady limited a bit due to surgery he underwent to repair the MCL tear he suffered during his last season in New England. With the injury far in the rearview mirror, Brady has reportedly been doing much more to prepare for the upcoming season this summer, “including some sprint work to help with his mobility.”
  • Cam Inman of the East Bay Times reported an assertion from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that San Francisco will likely play it safe and hold out tight end George Kittle and linebacker Fred Warner until training camp. About two of his stars, the sixth-year head coach claimed the team was “being smart” by using a little extra time to allow the two to get over their “lower half” issues.

Sean Payton To Be Fox Analyst In 2022

Linked as a potential Tom Brady coworker earlier this year, Sean Payton will follow the Buccaneers quarterback to Fox. Though, the two NFL mainstays’ timelines might not overlap at the network.

The 16-year Saints coach agreed to a deal to become a Fox analyst, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who adds Payton was in talks with Amazon as well. Payton indicated a desire to explore broadcasting. For now, that will be the Super Bowl-winning HC’s role.

Brady, of course, signed a 10-year, $375MM deal to be Fox’s lead analyst — whenever his final retirement decision commences. While Brady is ticketed to try his hand in the No. 1 analyst role, Florio notes Payton will work in the studio for Fox. It is conceivable Brady makes his debut for the network this season, depending on the Buccaneers’ performance, but he and Payton might not see their paths cross. Payton, 58, may take the Bill Cowher/Jimmy Johnson route and stay on the broadcasting side for good, but he has consistently been connected to other coaching jobs.

In addition to his perennial Cowboys ties, the ex-Dallas assistant has been linked to the Panthers and Dolphins this offseason. The latter rumor persisted and connected him to Brady, who was to be his quarterback in Miami. The Saints, however, denied the Dolphins permission to speak with Payton, who had recently announced he was leaving his New Orleans gig. During that announcement, Payton said he did not plan to coach in 2022. Just as the Bucs still hold Brady’s rights, the Saints would require compensation for Payton. For now, that is on the back-burner.

Tom Brady’s Contract Restructure Includes No-Tag Clause

Tom Brady‘s recent restructure dropped his 2022 cap number from $24MM to $13.8MM, giving the Buccaneers more wiggle room this year. Brady’s redone contract now calls for a $1.1MM base salary and $13.88MM roster bonus. They now have more than $10MM in cap space.

Tampa Bay’s move will also add to the escalating Brady debt while also restricting the team’s avenues to hang onto the all-time great beyond this season. Although it is not certain the 44-year-old quarterback will want to play in 2023, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes the restructure prevents the Bucs from using the franchise or transition tags on Brady (Twitter link). The deal also includes $4.5MM worth of 2022 incentives, Volin adds.

The Bucs have not discussed another Brady extension; he remains on track for free agency in 2023. Matters like Brady’s desire to play an age-46 season, his performance at 45 and potential interest from other teams will factor into that process. Brady’s restructure took one option off the table for the Bucs, though the tag might have been an untenable measure anyway thanks to the deal’s void years.

This restructure adds more money to Brady’s first void year, raising that 2023 cap hit from $24MM to $35MM. Brady’s void years now run through 2026, piling up potential dead-money charges. Unless Brady agrees to another extension with the Bucs, they will be hit with those fees beginning next year.

Brady has been connected to the Dolphins and 49ers, and though it sounds crazy to speculate on an NFLer venturing into Bernard Hopkins territory as a late-40s contact-sport athlete, Brady’s 2023 free agency will certainly be a topic of conversation. Brady’s restructure stands to help the Bucs mount another run this season, potentially with Rob Gronkowski and Ndamukong Suh back on board, but it also moves the 23rd-year veteran closer to a 2023 exit — even if retirement No. 2 does not happen by that point.

Latest On Dolphins’ Pursuit Of Tom Brady, Sean Payton

Two weeks ago, one of our staff writers, Rory Parks, posted a story detailing an update on a bit of a conspiracy being reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The reporting from Florio concerned a plan by the Dolphins to acquire quarterback Tom Brady and former-Saints head coach Sean Payton to create one of the most enviable QB-HC tandems in the league. 

The theory dates back to January 2020, when Brady was set to hit free agency and the possibility arose that he may finally leave New England. Florio reported that the Dolphins were generating the most buzz with talk of potentially making Brady a minority owner of the team. Then, this past February, Florio followed it up with a report that the Dolphins, once again, were looking into acquiring the two leaders during the offseason. Florio’s most recent reports on the matter double down on his assertion, claiming that the deal was “very close” to going down before former-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the team following his dismissal, throwing a wrench into any of Miami’s plans moving forward.

For the most part, it’s been Florio, alone, beating this drum, but, in an episode of STUpodity, the podcast hosted by Dan Le Batard and Jon Weiner, known professionally as Stugotz, released this Friday, NBC Sports’ Chris Simms added some fuel to the fire.

During the podcast, Simms said, “(The Dolphins) were going to trade a second-round pick to Tampa Bay to get Brady. (The Buccaneers) weren’t going to hold him hostage. Sean Payton and the Saints, that was going to be a first-round pick to get that deal done. It was a very real, tangible thing and the Brian Flores lawsuit definitely threw a wrench in it.”

It’s difficult to say how much, if any, of this was legitimately set to happen. In theory it makes sense, but, at the same time, the moves necessary to bring in Brady and Payton certainly would’ve precluded them from being able to make the moves they’ve made since the rumors started, moves that have taken them from 5-11 in 2019 to two consecutive winning seasons in 2020 & 2021. Would they have had the picks to draft young contributors like Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Raekwon Davis, Jaylen Waddle, Jaelan Phillips, Jevon Holland, or Liam Eichenberg? Or the draft capital to acquire star wide receiver Tyreek Hill?

Bringing Payton and Brady in to lead an empty cupboard likely wouldn’t have put them in a favorable position back in 2020. Bringing them in now makes a lot more sense, but is way more difficult to make happen. Still, as long as Payton still wants to coach and Brady still wants to play, these rumors will likely persist into the next few offseasons.

Bucs, Tom Brady Agree To Restructure

For a second straight offseason, the Buccaneers are adjusting Tom Brady‘s contract. They agreed to a restructure with the recently unretired superstar Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Details are not fully available, but this move is expected to create around $9MM in cap space for the Bucs. Like last year, Tampa Bay has brought back a few key free agents. This restructure could allow the NFC South champs to retain more talent. Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are still unsigned.

[RELATED: Brady, Bucs Have Not Discussed Extension]

Brady’s 2021 extension already tacked on three void years to his deal, which technically runs through 2025. The Bucs may well have added more void years, but Brady did not add any actual years via this restructure. He remains on track for free agency in 2023, though it is obviously uncertain if the future first-ballot Hall of Famer will opt to play an age-46 season.

The Bucs already have Brady tied to a $24MM cap hit in 2023, via the previous void-year arrangement. Whether Brady plays for the Bucs next year or not, he will carry a “significant” cap hit because of this latest adjustment, The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweets. Brady is on the Bucs’ books at $20.2MM this year.

Brady unretired just before free agency, with the move preceding Bruce Arians‘ mid-offseason exit. The Bucs have been connected to re-signing Suh and Gronkowski, though the latter has not committed to return just yet.

Buccaneers, Tom Brady Haven’t Discussed Extension

Tom Brady is locked in as the Buccaneers quarterback in 2022, but it remains to be seen if he’ll stick around for 2023.

[RELATED: Latest On Dolphins’ Pursuit Of Tom Brady]

There were recent whispers that Brady considered joining the Dolphins as both a minority owner and their starting quarterback. While it sounds like Brady’s committed to Tampa Bay for the upcoming campaign, his pending free agency has naturally led to speculation about whether he could eventually continue his career elsewhere.

When speaking with reporters today, general manager Jason Licht said he hasn’t had any discussions with Brady about an extension, and he hasn’t talk with the quarterback about Miami’s pursuit.

“No, we haven’t had those discussions,” said Licht (via ESPN’s Jenna Laine). “The only discussions I’ve had, we’ve had, with Tom has been, he came back and we’re excited about this year and we’re excited to get going.”

And what did the executive make of the recent chatter connecting Brady to the Dolphins?

“I make of it — chatter, just like you said,” Licht said. “We’re focused on putting our team together here with the draft, and we’re all excited, we’re all in lockstep here — Tom, Todd [Bowles], myself, Byron [Leftwich], the entire coaching staff — on this season.”

Of course, we wouldn’t expect Licht to say anything about the Dolphins’ reported pursuit of Brady. However, it is notable that the two sides haven’t discussed an extension. Brady will be 45 by the start of the next season, and after having flirted with retirement this offseason, the quarterback’s lame-duck contract could just be an indication that he’ll hang it up following next season. However, if you adjust that tinfoil hat a bit, you could argue that the future Hall of Famer’s one-year contract provides the Dolphins with another path to pursue him in 2023.

Latest On Dolphins’ Pursuit Of Tom Brady, Sean Payton

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk continues to beat the Tom Brady-to-Miami drum. In January 2020, just weeks before Brady was set to hit free agency and perhaps join an organization other than the Patriots for the first time in his two-decade career, Florio wrote that the Dolphins were the team that was generating the most buzz with respect to a Brady signing. Even then, the PFT creator reported that there was talk of Brady also becoming a minority owner of the ‘Fins.

In February 2022, Florio wrote that Miami hoped to hire former Saints head coach Sean Payton as its new HC this year, and that the club also planned to go after Brady and install him as the starting quarterback. Then, Brian Flores, who was fired as the Dolphins’ head coach in January, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the team, also naming the Giants and Broncos as defendants. According to Florio, the suit forced the Dolphins to scrap the Payton/Brady plan, and Brady announced his retirement on the same day the suit was filed.

Several days ago, Florio reported that Brady was indeed “very close” to joining the Dolphins, and that he would have first done so as a minority owner (other reporters have echoed the sentiment that Brady may want to own a part of the franchise). At that point, the Dolphins would have acquired Payton’s rights from the Saints and Brady’s rights from the Buccaneers and would have had the enviable HC-QB tandem they were seeking all along. Of course, it may not have been so simple; Florio acknowledged in his February 2022 piece that New Orleans declined Miami’s request to talk to Payton, even after Payton elected to step away from the Saints. Dolphins GM Chris Grier confirmed as much, and Payton himself said he would probably not have been interested in the Miami gig.

If Florio is accurate, however, this could all resurface in 2023. When discussing the ownership component of these rumors, Florio continues to emphasize Brady’s close relationship with Bruce Beal, who is Dolphins owner Stephen Ross‘ right-hand man. As far as Brady the player is concerned, it’s worth noting that one of Flores’ allegations in his suit is that Ross wanted Flores to recruit a “prominent quarterback” — generally believed to be Brady — at the end of the 2019 season, which would have contravened the league’s tampering rules.

So, if Brady wants to continue his playing career next year but wants to leave the Bucs — Florio remains adamant that Brady’s “retirement” was simply an attempt to leave Tampa and that he only circled back to the team after it became clear he would not be able to join the Dolphins or 49ers — then perhaps Ross will throw his hat in the ring again, depending on how Tua Tagovailoa performs in 2022. And, regardless of whether Brady ever plays his home games in South Beach, it at least seems like a strong possibility that he could one day own a piece of the Dolphins.

With Mike McDaniel having just been hired as Miami’s HC, it is perhaps less likely that Ross & Co. will seek to woo Payton next year, but given Ross’ history of seeking high-profile candidates for his head coaching post, such a pursuit probably should not be ruled out.