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Take 5: Tom Brady’s options for 2023

Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As engines start for the 2023 NFL season, Tom Brady turns 46 just a few days into training camp in August.

But where will Brady blow out his candles next summer?

Being a 10-time Super Bowl starter and seven-time champ buys Brady something not many others are assured: Options. And plenty of them.

Brady won his first Super Bowl in February 2002, four months after Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was born.

All teams would have to weigh an investment in Brady against the other options out there — such as Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young and potential big-name trade options including Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) and Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders).

Even so, the Buccaneers and several other teams are ready to welcome Brady for the ’23 season if he decides to play a 24th season.

Last February, Brady retired.

Retirement was a short-lived hiatus of 40 days and Brady showed the tank isn’t empty. He played in his 48th career playoff game Monday night, has 17 seasons with at least 25 TD passes and set a record in 2022 for completions (490). He attempted 733 passes and played in every regular-season game for the 13th time in 14 years.

When Brady returned to the Buccaneers, he said the time away allowed for reflection and he “realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come.”

Here are five potential options for Brady in 2023 other than returning to Tampa:

5) FOX Sports
The retirement door isn’t too shabby.

Brady can walk, trigger a 10-year, $375 million contract agreement with FOX and still have a role on gameday — with a different type of headset.

FOX carved a role for Brady as a color analyst, studio contributor and network ambassador when the time comes to step away from his on-field quarterback job.

The annual average value of $37.5 million exceeds what Brady would likely make on the field in ’23.

When FOX clinched that deal last year, Brady said he was “excited, but a lot of unfinished business on the field with the Buccaneers.”

The network later confirmed plans to pair Brady with play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt to form the No. 1 broadcast team and bring a replacement for the longtime tandem of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That pair left for “Monday Night Football.”

4) Sean Payton Pairing
Sean Payton has become a big player in the latest coaching cycle, but hiring Payton comes at a steep cost. He’ll likely command somewhere between $14 million — reportedly Sean McVay’s salary with the Rams — and $20 million, the Bill Belichick high-water mark for NFL coaches.

Getting Payton in the building also requires compensation to the New Orleans Saints in the form of players or draft picks. Payton said last week that the Saints wanted a first round pick to free him from retirement.

When Payton was last prominent in the news cycle post-retirement in the spring, it was as the subject of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ tampering suspension. Ross aggressively pursued a pairing of Payton and Brady, who had also retired, with the Dolphins.

There could be more than one spot that aligns for the superpower duo, but Houston makes the most sense. Brady and Payton are familiar with general manager Nick Caserio, the Texans have extra draft picks to pay the freight to hire Payton and the combination of cap space and draft capital means Brady could have a winning roster around him.

3) Indianapolis Colts
When the wheels spin the QB carousel, the Colts are almost always involved. That’s been the case since Andrew Luck retired in training camp 2019.

Colts owner Jim Irsay hasn’t hired a head coach and that could help him gain traction with Brady. Is Indianapolis otherwise ready to win? The Colts aren’t that far off with running back Jonathan Taylor and a defense that carried its water in 2022. A few playmakers on the outside might also help entice Brady to try his luck with the horseshoes.

2) New York Jets
Can you even imagine the drama around a Brady-led Jets visit to Foxborough next season? The cards are on the table from owner Woody Johnson to bring in a veteran quarterback as the “missing piece,” and who better than Brady to exhibit professional quarterbacking to Zach Wilson? The Jets are clearly on the verge, and could float the $30-plus million Brady can command.

The Jets are loaded with young playmakers — presuming running back Breece Hall is back from a torn ACL — heavily invested on the offensive line and had a top-5 defense last season.

1) Las Vegas Raiders
Josh McDaniels might already know where Brady is headed. His heyday offensive coordinator drew up plays for Brady to Randy Moss, and next season could do the same for a Brady-Davante Adams pairing.

Like the Colts and Jets, an established running back — All-Pro Josh Jacobs — would make it easier to break in Brady in a QB dominated division.

–Field Level Media