Update (February 1) — Despite the Buccaneers wishful thinking and best efforts, Tom Brady announced his retirement after 22 seasons in the NFL.
Original Article Begins Here
NFL fans have been told time and time again over the last two decades that a Tom Brady comeback should never be counted out. He’s provided copious amounts of evidence on the field, but that mantra also applies to his off-field activities as well.
Speculation would suggest that Brady has played his last down with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if not in the NFL entirely. But counting out a return for the 2023 season is foolish until given a concrete reason to believe otherwise — and even then, it’s not certain.
Just look at last year, when Brady retired following his second season in Tampa only to unretire a few months later. Until next season kicks off and Brady is either at home or in the booth announcing games for FOX, anything is possible.
To that point, Brady leaving Tampa Bay isn’t a sure thing either. Everyone assumes that the turmoil he endured this past season soured his desire to remain with the Bucs but the team dropped a massive hint that they’re planning a future with Brady for at least one more season.
According to NFL insider Mike Garafolo, the Buccaneers ongoing search for an offensive coordinator is in part built around what the candidate would do with a Tom Brady-led unit.
Buccaneers planning around a possible Tom Brady return in 2023
As Garofolo puts it, the Bucs are directly asking candidates they interview what they would do to improve the offense next season with Tom Brady under center.
“My understanding is that part of the conversation with the candidates is if Tom Brady returns what would be your plan to get him back on track,” Garafolo reported.
Oh, let’s go.
This appears to be more than just wishful thinking on the Bucs part. There’s an obvious amount of due diligence that is needed in the team’s search for a new offensive coordinator, but the fact that Brady is being discussed at all is extremely notable — and a very good sign.
It doesn’t guarantee that Brady is going to return to Tampa Bay next season, but what it does tell us is that the team hasn’t been informed of his departure, or been given any signs that such a thing is imminent.
“Brady has said he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The Buccaneers are keeping that option open and again talking to those candidates to see what their plan would be if Brady returns and how to improve him and the passing game in general.”
The case is there to be made that Brady spends his final season in Tampa. He could leave and go to a place like San Francisco — a team set up in an almost identical position to the 2020 Buccaneers team that won the Super Bowl — but he’d need to learn a new offense. Not only that but he’d need to learn a complicated Kyle Shanahan offense, not that he wouldn’t be capable of such a thing.
A return to Tampa Bay would provide him with a fourth year of continuity with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a healthy offensive line, and likely a ton of input on how the offense is run with an OC who would probably be trying to parlay a year with Brady into a head coaching job in 2024.
Everything with Brady needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but this feels a little more significant than a simple passing question to ask a candidate. The Bucs need to be prepared for all outcomes, and as much as that includes a Brady-less season next year it also includes him coming back for a fourth year.