Now in his third year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and staring down free agency for the second time in his career, Tom Brady needs to decide if he wants to continue playing in the NFL. Once Brady determines whether or not he wants to return for a 24th season, the 45-year-old quarterback has to pick where he’d like to play.
Brady, who won the Super Bowl six times with the Patriots and once with the Bucs, seems to have lost a step this season but is still one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and could be revitalized with a change of scenery. Some have theorized that change of scenery could actually be a reunion and that Brady, who spent two decades with the Patriots and Bill Belichick, could actually return to New England.
“Don’t ever write off the Patriots,” Jeff Howe, who covered the team from 2009-21, wrote for The Athletic last month. “Brady and Bill Belichick still have an abundance of respect for one another. They’ve made points to say it publicly on multiple occasions since the QB departed for Tampa. They also spent 23 minutes together in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium following Brady’s return in 2021 — an appointment they set up prior to the game. The Patriots are slated to have more than $50 million in cap space in 2023, so they can again address their flaws, this time on the heels of a couple impressive draft classes.”
While many dismissed Howe’s suggestion of a Brady-Belichick reunion in New England as hogwash, some people have granted that it is a legitimate possibility. Among them? Brady’s former top target Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski, who retired from the NFL for the second time prior to this season and has been fairly critical of the Patriots since leaving the team, told Fox News that he was positive Brady would be welcomed back to Foxboro if he decided he wanted to truly bury the hatchet with Belichick and return to New England.
“I mean, if Tom really wanted to, I’m sure that it would be all open arms to go back to New England. I would just have to say all parties would need to want it,” Gronkowski said. “But he has the opportunity to go wherever he would love to go. It’s Tom Brady. If he wanted to go back home to the San Francisco 49ers, I’m sure that would be open. If he wanted to go back home to the Patriots, I’m sure those doors would be open. If he 100% wants to stay in Tampa Bay, those doors would be wide open. It’s all on him.”
If Brady, who is 6-7 this season with Tampa while Belichick is 7-6 with New England, does head back to the Patriots at some point, he may have help as Danny Amendola, who played for the Houston Texans in 2021 but is not currently on an NFL roster, said he would gladly catch passes from Brady again.
“Tom’s done a lot for me and if he needs me, I’d always play for Tom,” Amendola said during an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “I’m happy not playing. I got enough football. My knees feel better on Monday this year watching football from the couch. Of course, if Tom called, yeah, definitely I’d have to go back if he summoned me out of retirement.”
It’s a fun scenario, but don’t hold your breath to see Amendola or Brady back with the Patriots next season or ever.