Tom Brady

2022 Expected To Be Tom Brady’s Final Season; Latest On Rob Gronkowski

For a few weeks, it seemed as if 2021 was Buccaneers QB Tom Brady‘s last season as a player. The future Hall of Famer announced his retirement on February 1, only to reverse that decision just before the start of the new league year on March 13. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, however, Brady is expected to hang up the cleats after the 2022 campaign.

This should not be especially surprising. After all, Brady did retire for a brief time just months ago, he has long stated that he wants to play until he is 45 — he just hit that milestone on August 3 — and he is out of contract at season’s end. Back in July, Brady acknowledged he was winding down, saying, “I would say it’s year to year. Could this be my last year? Absolutely. Could I change my mind? Absolutely. I’ve realized I don’t have five years left. I want to do it my way. I want to give it everything I got and see where I’m at. My body feels really good.”

Brady took an 11-day hiatus in the middle of this year’s training camp, which was planned but which nonetheless generated countless headlines, like most things that Brady does. We knew that Brady spent that time at a Bahamas resort with his family, and as Rapoport notes, Brady had promised his wife while he was still retired that he would vacation with the family in August for the first time in a long time. His absence amounted to nothing more than a fulfillment of that promise.

Of course, given Brady’s competitive nature, a return for the 2023 season remains a possibility. One source close to the 15-time Pro Bowler confirmed as much to Rapoport, though it presently seems more likely that, regardless of who is hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at season’s end, Brady will begin working as a Fox analyst on a healthy 10-year, $375MM contract. If he does choose to keep playing, he would be free to sign with any team, and while one source reiterated the affection and respect that Brady has for the Buccaneers’ organization, that source did not say that Brady would only play for Tampa Bay.

As for one of Brady’s favorite targets over the years, Rob Gronkowski? Despite Gronk’s recent adamance that he is retired for good, the Bucs reportedly were holding out hope that, if they are in the middle of a playoff chase this season, the enigmatic tight end could be convinced to return. However, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes, Tampa Bay believes Gronkowski is truly done with football.

The four-time First-Team All-Pro did post 55 catches for 802 yards and six TDs in just 12 games last year. If the Bucs are indeed in the mix for another Lombardi this season, they and Brady may well check in to see if Gronk might consider a second unretirement.

Tom Brady To Start Buccaneers’ Preseason Finale

The Buccaneers are planning on dressing any healthy starters on Saturday in the team’s third preseason contest on Saturday night. That includes Tom Brady, as noted by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). 

Brady just returned from an 11-day training camp absence which, while planned, was the cause of much speculation. He resumed practicing this week, in line with the timeframe laid out by head coach Todd Bowles; at the time, though, it was unclear if the future Hall of Famer would see any preseason action this year.

“We got together as a staff and as a team and we understand we want to see certain things, so we’re putting everybody out there,” Bowles said, via Greg Auman of The Athletic (subscription required). This will mark Brady’s first game action since the Buccaneers’ playoff loss to the Rams; as Auman notes, however, he has played in Week 3 of each preseason dating back to 2009.

The 45-year-old made waves when he retired in February, doing so again 40 days later when he reversed his decision. He will play at least one more year in Tampa, but already has his next career move (a transition to the broadcast booth with FOX) lined up.

Brady has also been involved in one of the top controversies in the league this offseason; he was (in part) the subject of the Dolphins tampering scandal which resulted in significant penalties for the team and their owner, Stephen Ross. Neither Brady nor Sean Payton – the other targeted acquisition of Miami’s illicit conversations – have been disciplined as a result of the investigation.

Stroud also reports (via Twitter) that Luke Goedeke will start at left guard. The rookie has been in the running to replace Aaron Stinnie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. The news that he will work with the first-team offense is certainly a sign that he could win out the spot, but there will still be serious question marks about the Buccaneers’ protection in the absence of Stinnie, Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Bucs, Davidson

Matt Corral landed on the Panthers’ IR Tuesday, ending his rookie season before it started. The Lisfranc injury the third-round pick suffered will require surgery, Matt Rhule said. The Panthers had planned to carry Corral as their third-string quarterback during what was to be a developmental year, with the team wanting him to add muscle to his 205-pound frame and obviously learn a pro-style offense, per Joe Person of The Athletic. Because of Corral’s injury, the Panthers’ roster math may change. The team may no longer be preparing to carry three quarterbacks, Person notes (subscription required). This news would pertain to P.J. Walker, the former XFL 2.0 standout who has been Carolina’s backup the past two seasons. Walker, who has won both his regular-season starts but holds a career 51.6 passer rating, struggled in the Panthers’ second preseason game. The 27-year-old passer could be stashed on the practice squad — behind starter Baker Mayfield and backup Sam Darnold — if he clears waivers in the event of a cut before next week’s deadline.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Shifting to the division’s most famous quarterback, Tom Brady is now back with the Buccaneers. The all-time great missed nearly two weeks of training camp. Family time has circulated as the reasoning behind Brady’s absence, which coincidentally occurred while the team held joint practices against the Dolphins, and Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com notes Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen spent time at an exclusive Bahamas resort. Not a bad arrangement, though not many players could swing such a mid-camp trip. Brady has not taken questions since the Dolphins scandal broke, but he is back practicing with the Bucs.
  • During Brady’s time away, the Bucs lost another potential O-line starter. Aaron Stinnie‘s ACL and MCL tears add to a lengthy list of changes to Tampa Bay’s interior O-line. Ali Marpet retired, Alex Cappa signed with the Bengals, and Ryan Jensen suffered what may be a season-ending injury. Jensen, however, may have a late-season return window. The Bucs are not planning to place their starting center on IR, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting the veteran blocker’s “complicated” injury could have him available for the playoffs. For now, the team will keep that door open. That would mean carrying Jensen onto the 53-man roster and then placing him on IR.
  • For now, the Bucs have 2021 third-round pick Robert Hainsey (31 offensive snaps last season) at center and would have either second-round rookie Luke Goedeke or former UDFA Nick Leverett (two career games; zero starts) at left guard opposite Shaq Mason. Goedeke would be the likely in-house solution, Greg Auman of The Athletic notes. Hainsey, who was working at guard earlier this offseason, is unlikely to be moved off his new center post, Auman adds. This would point to the Bucs, if they feel the need arises, looking at the guard market for a veteran. Ereck Flowers, Quinton Spain and James Carpenter are among the top options.
  • While the Bucs are not believed to be actively searching, the loss of two veteran blockers could be rather important in what could be Brady’s final season. The Ravens could be a trade option, Auman offers, holding a potential guard surplus featuring Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland and Ben Powers. The team is unlikely to keep all three.
  • Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery recently, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. The team had hoped Davidson, a 2020 second-round pick, would push Ta’Quon Graham to start opposite Grady Jarrett in the team’s 3-4 scheme. Graham, a 2021 fifth-rounder who started five games last season, is now in the lead. Despite his draft pedigree, Davidson has started just one game.

Latest On Buccaneers, Tom Brady

AUGUST 22: The drama surrounding Brady, on this front at least, appears over. Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback has returned to practice, staying on Bowles’ initial timetable.

AUGUST 21: Brady is expected to be back early this week, with Rapoport tweeting that Monday is his expected day to return to practice. Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson details that Brady was with family during his absence, and that no health concerns are at play.

AUGUST 19: Bowles struck a different tone on Friday when speaking on the subject, saying (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times) that he knows “exactly when Tom is coming back,” though he again did not name an exact date. He added that the vagueness in his remarks is due to the fact that “something unforeseen” could lead to a delay in Brady’s return, but insisted once more that “I’m not worried, so I don’t know why anyone else would be worried.”

AUGUST 18: When Todd Bowles announced Tom Brady was making an unusual mid-training camp exit, which took place Aug. 11, the new Buccaneers HC said he and the future Hall of Fame quarterback had discussed this matter prior to camp. That said, a Brady return date remains elusive.

Bowles said Thursday he does not know when exactly the recently unretired passer will return to the Bucs, via Greg Auman of The Athletic (on Twitter). The plan remains for Brady to return after the Bucs’ second preseason game — against the Titans on Saturday — though the timetable being foggy represents a new wrinkle here. Tampa Bay wraps its preseason slate Aug. 27.

We’ll see. We’ll talk about it next week. I’m not concerned about it right now,” Bowles said of Brady’s status. “We’re trying to practice against Tennessee and play a game. I said sometime after Tennessee. There’s no definitive date for me. We’ll keep in touch and find out.”

Brady, 45, is believed to be attending to personal matters, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The 23rd-year QB is in his third year in this Tampa Bay offense, which retained its play-caller (OC Byron Leftwich) despite Bruce Arians‘ surprise late-March retirement, and was not ticketed to play in the Bucs’ first two preseason games. The timing of this departure still qualifies this situation as one of the odder camp developments regarding a star player in recent memory. Brady has also not been available for questioning since the Dolphins’ tampering punishment — for speaking to Brady during his time with the Patriots and Bucs — surfaced.

The Bucs’ offseason shifted considerably on two Brady decisions — his February retirement and pre-free agency unretirement — with the team going from potentially retooling to making another run at a Super Bowl. Brady agreed to an offseason restructure as well, helping the Bucs create cap space to add more talent for 2022.

Set to be the oldest starting QB in NFL history, Brady is attached to just a $1.12MM base salary. His two Bucs contracts, however, have fully guaranteed him $75MM. Brady’s void years would begin to hit the Bucs in 2023, which features a $35MM-plus dead-money charge unless the parties agree to another extension before the ’23 league year begins. For now, however, the team remains in a clear contention window — whenever its starting quarterback returns.

Tom Brady To Be Away From Buccaneers For Multiple Weeks

Tom Brady‘s complicated 2022 will experience another hiccup. Although Todd Bowles said this was previously discussed, the first-year Buccaneers HC informed media Thursday his starting quarterback will be away from the team until after its second preseason game.

The Bucs face the Titans on Aug. 20. The legendary passer will be away dealing with a personal matter, per Bowles. Brady has already missed three practices since the start of last week.

He’s going to deal with some personal things,” Bowles said, via The Athletic’s Greg Auman (on Twitter). “This is something we talked about before training camp started. We allotted this time because he wanted to get chemistry with the guys [in first two weeks]. … It’s something he needs to handle. We trust him.”

On the surface, a player with Brady’s resume missing preseason time is largely inconsequential. This marks Brady’s third season being in this offensive system, and he was not slated to play in the team’s preseason opener against the Dolphins this week. Then again, a lot has happened since Brady’s most recent game.

The future walk-in Hall of Famer retired in February, unretired in March, accepted a monster FOX offer to work as an analyst when his actual retirement happens and was at the epicenter of a scandal that saw another team lose a first-round pick. The NFL found enough evidence from the Brady-Sean Payton-Dolphins tampering drama to strip Miami of first- and third-round choices. This marked the third time Brady or a Brady-led team was at the heart of a scandal that saw the league take away a first-round pick, with this multiyear Dolphins case following Spygate and Deflategate.

Brady was not punished for his role in the scandal — one that, in addition to owner Stephen Ross, involved Dolphins exec and TB12 board member Bruce Beal — and has not been available for questions since the NFL punished the Dolphins. Brady’s retirement and a tampering saga that reaches back to 2019 certainly casts some uncertainty regarding his future with the Bucs, who changed head coaches at an unusual time. Bruce Arians has said multiple times he was not forced out, and the Super Bowl-winning HC remains with the Bucs. But the timing of Brady’s unretirement and Arians’ latest retirement brought suspicion for many.

Brady, 45, is signed through season’s end. He agreed to restructure his contract again this year, giving the Bucs more cap space to bolster their roster in yet another busy offseason. The void years tacked onto Brady’s contract would tag Tampa Bay with a substantial dead-money hit if Brady does not sign another extension to stay before the start of the 2023 league year.

Injury Updates: Patriots, Burrow, Poyer, Giants, Falcons

James White remains without a return timetable. The veteran is still sidelined following hip surgery, and Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets that it’s uncertain when the long-time Patriots RB will return to the field.

The longest-tenured member of the Patriots offense could ultimately land on PUP, but Howe notes that the organization will wait a few more weeks to evaluate White’s progress. The RB suffered a hip subluxation injury last September, limiting him to only three games during the 2021 season. White had 496 yards from scrimmage during his first non-Tom Brady season in 2020, but he topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both 2019 and 2018.

Fortunately for the Patriots, the organization still has Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson atop their depth chart, but it’s tough to replace the pass-catching prowess of White. The organization also used a pair of draft picks on RBs Pierre Strong Jr. (fourth round) and Kevin Harris (sixth round).

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had an appendectomy last week, and it’s unlikely we see him until the regular season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Burrow likely won’t play during the preseason. Rapoport estimates that the QB could return two to four weeks after his initially surgery, and he’ll likely participate in throwing sessions while limiting his hits during practice.
  • Bills All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer hyperextended his elbow yesterday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). While the injury will keep Poyer off the field for a few weeks, he’s expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. The veteran defensive back has only missed a pair of regular season games since joining the Bills in 2017.
  • Giants fourth-round safety Dane Belton suffered a broken collarbone, reports ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (via Twitter). While the rookie will be sidelined for the foreseeable future, the organization is holding out hope that he’ll be good to go for the start of the season. There’s a better chance he lands on IR following final cuts and will then be activated at some point in October. The Iowa product had already made a strong impression at training camp, according to Raanan.
  • Falcons defensive tackle Vincent Taylor ruptured his Achilles, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein (on Twitter). The injury will force Taylor to miss the 2022 season. The 28-year-old joined the Falcons back in April. The journeyman has appeared in 40 career games, including a single start with the Texans in 2021.

Dolphins Fallout: Brady, Payton, Beal

There have been persistent rumors that the Dolphins’ pursuit of Tom Brady included a scenario where the quarterback would have become a minority owner of the franchise. As ESPN’s Jeff Darlington tweets, this hypothetical was never very realistic. If Brady wanted to both own and play for a team, the vote would have needed to go through a vote of all owners. It’s very unlikely that vote would have passed.

“Current policy stipulates that a current player or coach could have a financial interest in his or her club but only under an agreement affirmed by a vote of the 32 teams,” Darlington cites. “Among the considerations could be salary cap implications.”

Darlington details the chaos that could have followed Brady’s brief retirement if the QB decided to become an owner/player in Miami. Not only would Brady have had to get out of his Buccaneers contract, but he would also need rival organizations (including Robert Kraft in New England, Joel Glazer in Tampa, and many AFC foes) to agree to the arrangement. These organizations wouldn’t have necessarily been denying Brady’s chance to be an owner; rather, they would have been denying his chance to join a key opponent.

Some additional details regarding the Dolphins’ punishment:

  • Brady and former Saints coach Sean Payton will not face any discipline for their role in the Dolphins’ tampering. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), there were “no findings or discipline” besides those levied to the Dolphins organization.
  • Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal, who was suspended and fined for his role in the tampering scandal, may have been the reason the whole story “blew up.” Per Florio, Beal had been telling friends about Miami’s pursuit of Brady for more than a year. The executive wasn’t discreet, and Florio implies that his behavior may have come back to bite the organization.
  • Tom E. Curran of NBC Boston explored (on Twitter) what may have led to Brady’s “dalliance” with the Dolphins back in 2019. In August of that year, Brady inked a “phantom” two-year, $70MM extension with the Patriots that was actually a year-to-year, incentive-laden deal. So, with Brady “resigned to leaving,” he started considering his exit plan, and that included some flirting with Miami. As Curran notes, the Patriots’ unwillingness to truly extend Brady doesn’t excuse the QB, but it does illustrate “how betrayed Brady felt by August 2019.

Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Suspended; Team Docked Draft Picks For Tampering

The tampering allegations faced by the Dolphins have led to serious consequences for the organization. Owner Stephen Ross has been suspended for the beginning of the 2022 season, and the team has been docked two draft picks (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). ESPN’s Jeff Darlington notes that the decision is final, and there is no appeals process (Twitter link).

Ross will be suspended through October 17 of this year. He is also banned from all league committees and is not allowed to attend league meetings until March 2023. In addition, he has been fined $1.5MM. The draft picks the team is forfeiting are a first-round selection in 2023, as well as a third-rounder in 2024. Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal, who is also a TB12 board member (per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times), has also been suspended and fined $500K.

The full findings of the league’s investigations into the team’s attempts to acquire quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Sean Payton include “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” per commissioner Roger Goodell. The league has found that the Dolphins engaged in “impermissible communications” with Brady dating back to 2019-20, when he was with the Patriots (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Miami likewise held illegal talks with Brady while he was a member of the Buccaneers, pertaining to a potential ownership stake, Schefter adds. As for Payton, the league has found that the Dolphins’ initial talks with him took place before before his decision to step away from the Saints in January, and that permission was still not granted by the Saints after that decision (Twitter links).

With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment,” Ross said in a statement. “However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season. I will not allow anything to get in the way of that.”

Reports surfaced early in the offseason of repeated attempts by Ross to bring Brady (who has a well-known personal relationship with Ross and Beal) to Miami as the team’s quarterback and/or minority owner. The move was expected to represent a package deal with Payton, but fell through in the wake of Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against, among others, the team. Much of the story was first detailed by PFT’s Mike Florio, but was later corroborated by a number of outlets; today’s new confirms what many had already suspected based on that reporting.

The punishment handed down to Ross, Beal and the organization is meant to “deter future violations and safeguard the integrity of the game,” per the league’s ruling. While it remains to be seen if it will have the intended effect in future cases of the sort, the Dolphins certainly face a steep price for their actions.

Latest On Tom Brady’s Retirement Decision, NFL Future

The 2022 offseason has seen a plethora of headline-grabbing moves, from record-breaking contracts to future Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball changing teams. Well before free agency had begun, though, Tom Brady had caused quite the stir by announcing his retirement. That decision was reversed 40 days later, something the quarterback recently spoke about. 

As detailed by Kevin Patra of NFL.com, Brady confirmed that, despite coming back for 2022, he is “very close to the end” of his illustrious career. “I would say it’s year to year,” he added. “Could this be my last year? Absolutely. Could I change my mind? Absolutely. I’ve realized I don’t have five years left. I want to do it my way. I want to give it everything I got and see where I’m at. My body feels really good.”

Brady’s initial decision to end his career left the Buccaneers with an unenviable QB situation, something former head coach Bruce Arians touched on when detailing his own retirement. The lack of realistic replacement options at the position spurred Brady to change course earlier than he otherwise would have wanted.

“I would have preferred to un-retire in July if I wanted to play,” he said. “But I couldn’t. If I said I’m not playing, they’d make plans. So I felt there was a lot of pressure to make a decision quickly.” A second straight restructure of his contract keeps Brady on track for free agency in 2023, allowing him to take a year-to-year approach regarding his playing future.

Once he hangs up his cleats for good, it is already known that Brady will join Fox Sports as a broadcaster – though he confirmed that his booth debut won’t take place immediately after Tampa’s season ends in 2022. Ultimately, the seven-time Super Bowl winner isn’t making a firm commitment on how many more years he sees himself playing.

“Obviously, there’s a chance,” he said, when asked if he would continue his career for multiple more years. “But I’m very close to the end.”

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.