Tom Brady might not be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback anymore, but the team is still footing the bill for him.
It’s impossible — and foolish — to argue that Brady wasn’t worth the price the Bucs paid. He rejuvenated the franchise, put the team back on the map, and brought a Super Bowl back to Tampa Bay.
Given the state of the franchise since the last Super Bowl in 2002, what Brady did for the Bucs is perhaps the most unexpected plot twist in recent sports history.
That being said, the bill has come due.
As Bucs insider Greg Auman lays out, Brady retiring not only costs the team a quarterback next season but also adds to the gnarly salary cap knot the front office is trying to untie.
“Tom Brady’s official retirement means the Bucs will take the full $35 million in dead money from his old contract against this year’s salary cap,” Auman reported. “Makes for much less cap flexibility now, but puts them in better shape for 2024.”
Buccaneers salary cap situation went from bad to worse after Tom Brady retired
It was expected that Brady would impact the Bucs cap situation even if he wasn’t on the team, but there were ways for him to help out if he chose to do so. Auman notes that Brady waiting to officially file his retirement papers until June would have allowed Tampa Bay to spread his dead cap space out rather than taking it all on this year.
“Basically, they needed him to play along and not file retirement papers until June,” Auman explained when someone on Twitter asked about why the team couldn’t spread the dead cap space. “Perhaps they wanted to take the big cap hit now and get it over with.
When Brady filed those papers this week, all $35 million of his dead cap hit the books this year.
To be fair, there was a slim chance the Bucs were going to be able to soften the financial blow of Brady retiring and he actually could have screwed them even more than he did. Had Brady returned for another season and signed with the Raiders, 49ers, or another team he was rumored to be going to, the Bucs would have taken a $35 million cap hit.
So it could have been worse, at least optically. The Bucs are still technically paying for Brady to not be on the team, but at least he’s not playing somewhere else. The upshot of having him wait would have been the ability to take on $11 million in dead cap this year and move the remaining $24 to next offseason.
As much of a bummer as it is to pay the $35 million this offseason, it’s essentially ripping the bandaid off. Tampa Bay already needed to make some tough decisions regarding the future of key players and this just ensures they take another blow on the chin this year rather than delaying it.