Will he play Tom Brady in 2023? 6 team options if the QB returns
With Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entering the final four weeks of the regular season, the GOAT and 2020 Super Bowl champions find themselves in a battle to stay atop the embattled NFC South.
Despite falling to 6-7 with Sunday’s blowout loss in San Francisco, the Bucs are still in position for a postseason bid as the NFC’s fourth seed.
Dates with Cincinnati, Arizona and team foes Carolina and Atlanta await, and it’s not an easy road. But the Bucs will look to find the consistency and consistency that eluded them all season, and then carry that momentum into the postseason.
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Whatever the outcome of Tampa Bay’s quest for another Lombardi Trophy, Brady’s future characters will rank among the most intriguing storylines of the offseason. Most NFL insiders think he’s likely to retire, but since Brady hasn’t made his intentions public, they concede that anything is still possible.
Despite his team’s struggles this season, Brady remains one of the best players in his position. So, if he wants to continue playing at the age of 46, the most decorated player in NFL history can probably get his share of suitors.
Brady, of course, will be selective. Any team worth serious consideration should have a solid defense, a quality offensive line, adequate offensive weapons, and a coach who is receptive to Brady’s input on the direction of the offense.
Here’s a rundown of the teams that rank among Brady’s most realistic options in 2023.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs will apparently try to expand this window of masked football with Brady as the star of the show. Keeping Brady will require some financial maneuvering, because the Tampa Bay Projects will be more than $40 million over the cap next season. But we’ve seen Brady rework his deal to accommodate his team and allow major promotion takeovers multiple times. Tampa Bay should retool its defensive line and offense, while adding another pass-throwing tight end. Familiarity can be tempting, especially if offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich hasn’t left to take a head coaching job.
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Brady grew up in the Bay Area, so the move would make sense for him. He reportedly had a prior interest in playing for the 49ers. Is the timing right now for both parties? San Francisco will have some sorting out regarding unproven Trey Lance, whom it traded three first- and third-round draft picks in 2022. But Brady might give John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan an immediate better shot at winning the Super Bowl. As for Brady, there seems to be a lot to like about San Francisco. She has talented defense and good depth in offensive skill positions. The 49ers also have a quality streak and believe in balance. Brady was a childhood fan of Joe Montana, so the move would be a dream come true for him, especially if he ends up lifting another trophy – this time in front of his hometown crowd.
Tom Brady entered Levi’s Stadium admiring the history of the 49ers franchise – his boyhood team.
Then he made San Francisco dreams come true at the expense of his current club.
He also wrote the 49ers defense exactly the way he drew it @tweet.https://t.co/S27EbiPvWD
– The Athletic December 12, 2022
How cool would it be if Brady moved to New York and took the opportunity to torment Bill Belichick and the Faithful Patriots twice a year? Despite drafting Zach Wilson with the second pick in 2021, the Jets don’t have much faith in him after a slow development process, but otherwise have a roster that looks to be in winning mode right now. Jets coach Robert Salih is among the game’s most brilliant defensive minds, and having thrived in New England all those years, Brady appreciates a dominant defense. The Jets also have a young and burgeoning talent at running back and wide receiver. The New York Coppers will have some work to do on the offensive line, but Brady at his current level looks set to give this long-suffering franchise, however, legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Outside of Belichick, there is no coach in the league who understands better how to use and support Brady while giving him free speech than Josh McDaniels. The Raiders are in the midst of a season turnaround, but uncertainty hangs over Derek Carr. They should keep running back Josh Jacobs – that’s a no-brainer. They also offer a dynamic wide receiver in Davante Adams and a tight end in Darren Waller, and you know Brady loves a quality tight end. The Raiders have holes to fill on defense, but Brady’s possession will likely help with recruiting.
Brady is in love with his old friend and fellow Patriots teammate, Mike Vrabel. If anyone rolls out the red carpet and gives Brady carte blanche, it’s the former New England player/choice catcher who occasionally catches goal line passes. The Titans also tick the box when it comes to solid defense and a quality running game (if Derrick Henry can stay healthy after another punishing season). The wide receiver is still unproven, however, and it could cost the Titans in pursuit of Brady if not handled appropriately.
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New England Patriots
Despite his departure in 2020, Brady remains a beloved figure in New England, remains close to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and can figure out how to get things working again with Belichick. Mac Jones had bright spots, but still inconsistent. If Kraft and Belichick thought one more dance with Brady would produce another realistic shot at the Super Bowl, they would. They may have to add more offensive weapons, but where there is a will, there is a way.
(Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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