By now you have probably heard the news: Tom Brady has announced that he is returning to the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after just 40 days. It was a nice 40 days. I appreciate Brady as a player (he is the GOAT) but it was nice to have a league without him in it, for as long as it lasted. It has been over 20 years since the NFL was dominated by Brady and we will get at least one more of those years in 2022.
This is probably the right call from Brady. He is not nearing the drop-off of physical abilities that we have seen from other veteran quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Even at 44-years-old, Brady was still one of the best passers in the league last year. He led all quarterbacks in passing yards and touchdowns and he attempted more passes than any other season in his career. He is an alien. He has physical gifts that are unmatched by anybody on the planet. He will retire when he decides to retire, not when his body decides it’s time to retire. We thought he had made that decision 40 days ago, hell, even he probably thought he made that decision. But that retirement was short-lived and Brady will be back to dominating the league once again.
We know Brady will be at the top of his game, but will the Buccaneers do the same? It is hard to be as consistent as Brady has been. And even though the Bucs won the Super Bowl two years ago, there is no guarantee that they can get back there again. Last year Tampa Bay struggled at the end of the season because the injuries had piled up. Key players such as Chris Godwin and Tristan Wirfs missed the final game of the season. Other players missed time throughout the year, which put a lot of pressure on Brady to play even better.
Free agency will also be a very important time in the offseason for the Bucs. The number one priority will be to protect Brady, whose age still makes him vulnerable in the pocket. Center Ryan Jensen will be a free agent and guard Ali Marpet retired. Unless Marpet pulls a Brady and unretires, that means the Bucs could potentially be down two of their starting linemen from last season.
Tampa Bay will also have to answer some questions about Brady’s offensive weapons as well. They were able to bring Godwin back on the franchise tag again, but other guys pose question marks. The first one is Rob Gronkowski. The legendary tight end is scheduled to be a free agent so he could leave a massive hole in the offense. Even though Gronk has played his entire career with Brady, he could potentially sign somewhere else in the offseason. He could even retire, something he has done before, and be officially done with his NFL career. The other question mark for the Bucs is who will fill the third wide receiver role. It is pretty obvious that Antonio Brown isn’t coming back with the way his Tampa Bay tenure ended. Now it is up to the Bucs’ front office to decide if they want to give that role to an in-house replacement such as Scotty Miller or Tyler Johnson or go out and sign a free agent to boost the offense.
Overall, Brady is good for the sport; he is the best quarterback to ever play the game. Only time will tell if his decision to unretire was a good choice. If the Bucs go on to win their second Super Bowl in three years with Brady then it will be unequivocally a success. If Tampa Bay squanders this opportunity with a lackluster free agency and the 2022 season ends in playoff disappointment again, then maybe Brady will wish he stayed retired. The one thing we do know is that this is going to be a very intriguing storyline to pay attention to throughout the season as Brady probably plays his last season. And who knows, maybe a year from now we will be having this same conversation when Brady unretires for a second time.