Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady announced his retirement earlier in February after 22 seasons in the league.
However, it does not appear to be a hard retirement. Brady, 44, left open the door for a return next season almost immediately after stepping away. Meanwhile, some close to the all-time great believe that he will indeed return.
The interesting dynamic here is that it might not be with his current Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. A recent report suggests that Brady could force his way from the Bucs and on to another team after two seasons with the organization.
This will continue to be a major talking point as the 2022 NFL offseason gets going. Below, we look at five ideal Tom Brady landing spots should he come out of retirement.
Related: Complete NFL offseason calendar
Miami Dolphins change course, add Tom Brady in trade
Even after hiring Mike McDaniel to be their new head coach, these Dolphins seem committed to Tua Tagovailoa moving forward. Hence, why they moved off former head coach Brian Flores following a rift with general manager Chris Grier stemming from their differing opinions of the former Alabama star.
In no way does this mean Miami won’t become an ideal destination for Brady should the seven-time Super Bowl champion opt to come out of retirement. Tua is not even in the same league as his older counterpart. It’s actually pretty laughable comparing the two from a statistical standpoint.
- Tua Tagovailoa stats (2020-21): 66% completion, 4,446 yards, 27 TD, 15 INT (21 starts)
- Tom Brady stats (2021): 68% completion, 5,316 yards, 42 TD, 12 INT (17 starts)
South Beach is always a premium landing spot for NFL free agents. Miami is also slated to have a league-high $64.67 million in cap room. That would be a major draw for Brady, much like when he signed with Tampa Bay ahead of the 2020 season.
Tom Terrific to Sin City
Speaking of a major draw, what’s to stop Brady from heading to Sin City should he unretire and force his way from the Buccaneers? The draw here being new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, who worked with Brady as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator for 11 seasons. The two have a great relationship.
Sure the Raiders seem intent on signing Derek Carr to a contract extension. This has to be under the guise that Brady would stay retired. Add in the presence of former Patriots front office man Dave Ziegler as the Raiders’ general manager, and that’s magnified further.
Vegas is coming off a surprise 10-win season. It has a pretty solid offensive line and one of the best tight ends in the NFL, Darren Waller. With Hunter Renfrow looking every bit the part of a Patriots’ throwback wide receiver, the on-field fit would be obvious here.
Indianapolis Colts somehow land Tom Brady
As currently constructed, the Colts can be seen as a legitimate title contender with an above-average starting quarterback under center. Carson Wentz did not provide that in his first season with Indianapolis — leading to speculation that Indianapolis will move off him in short order.
Indianapolis has a built-in offense under head coach Frank Reich that already plays to Brady’s strengths. It also has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and a solid skill-position grouping. Running back Jonathan Taylor (2,171 total yards, 20 touchdowns) was a legit NFL MVP candidate last season. Michael Pittman Jr. has morphed into a solid possession receiver.
It also doesn’t hurt that the Colts are projected to have north of $37 million in cap room. They can save another $20 million by moving off the likes of Wentz and a couple others. Restructures for DeForest Buckner, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith would also save a ton of cash. In short, Indy has the financial flexibility to add even more talent for Tom Brady.
The one thing potentially holding this all-time great back from heading to Indianapolis is the presence of former nemesis Peyton Manning as the greatest player in franchise history.
Related: Updated NFL trade rumors
Tom Brady returns to the Buccaneers
This always seemed like the likeliest scenario should Brady pull a 180 and unretire. He has a built-in relationship with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The same thing can be said about returning offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
There’s some obvious concerns over Tampa Bay’s salary cap health. General manager Jason Licht will have to address that in order to clear Brady’s mind of any apprehension. Even then, we’re talking about a team that remains a title contender with a top-end quarterback under center.
Should Brady opt to return for a 23rd season in the NFL, we fully expect it to be with Tampa Bay. However, any decision in this regard will have to be made in short order with the Buccaneers’ brass already planning for contingencies in the form of Deshaun Watson and Jimmy Garoppolo.
GOAT finishes up career in Northern California
Brady has been linked to his childhood team, the San Francisco 49ers, on a near never-ending loop over the years. There were strong indications leading up to free agency in March of 2020 that Brady would have signed with the 49ers without even considering other teams.
“He reached out to Wes Welker, who was now the 49ers’ receivers coach, and let him know that if San Francisco was interested, it would be his choice—no free-agency tour, no bidding war, full stop; he would end his career where his love of football began, in scarlet and gold, allowing his parents to drive to games for the first time since the 1990s.”Excerpt of a book from SI’s Seth Wickersham
More recently, Patriots color analyst Scott Zolak talked about how Brady could very well force a trade to the 49ers with Garoppolo potentially heading back to Tampa.
Brady’s initial flirtation with San Francisco came two years ago — mere months after Garoppolo had “led” the 49ers to the Super Bowl. General manager John Lynch and Co. opted against chasing after GOAT.
On the field, it’s a perfect fit two years later. Imagine Brady doing his work with studs such as Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell. San Francisco also has the best left tackle in the game, Trent Williams.
With all of that said, it might be a pipe dream. The 49ers are set to move off Garoppolo in favor of 2021 No. 3 pick Trey Lance. Short of San Francisco’s brass believing Lance is not ready to take over, he’ll be the team’s Week 1 starter next season.