Is Tom Brady’s Future Suddenly in Doubt?

"I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, taking it day by day," Brady said when asked about retirement after Sunday's loss to the Rams

Tom Brady looks on before Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. Is Brady considering retirement after the 2021-2022 NFL season?
Tom Brady looks on before Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

In Tampa Bay, the biggest question of the offseason is whether a former New England Patriot will be returning for his third season in the Sunshine State with the Buccaneers. Sorry, Rob Gronkowski — we don’t mean you.

While Gronk’s future with the Bucs also remains up in the air, the biggest question mark in Tampa is if Tom Brady, who will be turning 45 in August, will be back in Tampa for his 23rd season in the NFL.

It would be surprising if Brady, who led the NFL in passing yards (5,316), touchdowns (43), completions (485) and attempts (719) while guiding the Bucs to their first NFC South title since 2007, didn’t come back to the NFL to pursue his eighth Super Bowl title, but there’s certainly some reason to believe he’ll be hanging up his cleats this season.

“Truthfully, guys, I’m thinking about this game. I’m not thinking about past five minutes from now,” Brady said when asked about retirement following Sunday’s upset loss to the Los Angeles Rams. “I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, taking it day by day.”

The Buccaneers will give the future Hall of Fame quarterback — who is under contract for next season and would have to repay millions in signing bonus money if he were to retire — as much time as he needs to get make up his mind as they do not have anyone to replace him with and already have to deal with potentially losing unrestricted free agents like wide receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, running back Leonard Fournette, defensive back Carlton Davis, safety Jordan Whitehead, defensive lineman William Gholston and edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul.

Retaining some or all of those players will be much easier for the Bucs if they are able to keep Brady and the lure of another potential Super Bowl run on the table, and Tampa will likely do whatever it takes to convince the veteran QB to return for another season. That could include giving him a contract extension or possibly even changing head coaches as it is no secret that Brady and Bruce Arians have clashed at times over the past two seasons. Firing Arians would be drastic, but it would also be worth it if that’s what convinces Brady to stay in Tampa and give it another go with the Bucs. With him, the team will have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Without him, the Bucs aren’t a playoff team.

For what it’s worth, it’s hard to envision a hyper-competitive person like Brady not running it back at least one more time. Losing at home in the divisional round to an underdog would be a difficult way to end a season, let alone a storied career that’s had as many twists and turns as Brady’s has. Put another way, it’d be more of a surprise to see Brady retire after a gut-wrenching loss than it would be to see Aaron Rodgers walk away after yet another choke job.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!