Tom Brady tried the retirement thing, but it wasn’t for him. He announced he would be returning for his 23rd NFL season, much to the excitement of Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, the front office, and the entire organization. They went from wondering who the next quarterback would be to welcoming the GOAT back into the fold.
With TB12’s return, Tampa Bay will look to avenge its loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Before the announcement, it appeared the Bucs would take a considerable step back in 2022.
Brady’s retirement didn’t last long, but Licht suggests his dramatic return came at the perfect time.
Buccaneers GM Jason Licht opens up on Tom Brady unretiring
After Tom Brady retired from football, some people around the league speculated that the 15-time Pro Bowl quarterback would be back, and that prediction came to fruition.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t sure what Brady’s plans were, but they held out hope that he would have second thoughts about retiring. General manager Jason Licht suggests TB12’s decision was a domino that needed to fall into place.
“We touched base every once in a while. I know Bruce [Arians] did as well,” Licht said via The Rich Eisen Show. “You could still feel it a little bit that he was wanting to play. Neither of us wanted to try to back him into a corner and give us a decision. I was getting a little antsy about the Combine. We had no idea yet that he was going to come back. But free agency was going to start in a week.”
Timing is everything, and Jason Licht was glad that Tom Brady didn’t complicate things by waiting too long to announce his unretirement.
How Brady’s return helped Tampa Bay in free agency
The Buccaneers posted a 13-4 record in 2021, good for first place in the NFC South. Without Tom Brady, it was unclear what we could expect from Tampa Bay during the 2022 season. Fortunately for Jason Licht and company, they don’t have to worry about that right now.
With Brady coming back before the NFL Scouting Combine and free agency, the Bucs were able to get a clearer picture of what things could look like in 2022.
The three-time MVP coming back seemingly opened the flood gates a bit in free agency. The opportunity to play with greatness is an enticing selling point. Center Ryan Jensen was an unrestricted free agent, but he wasted no time re-signing once he learned Brady was coming back. Running back Leonard Fournette and cornerback Carlton Davis recently re-upped as well.
The Buccaneers were also able to land a couple of notable free agents from elsewhere, including wide receiver Russell Gage and defensive back Logan Ryan.
Tampa Bay’s championship window is closing just yet.
Bucs front office is mum about TB12’s future beyond 2022
Tom Brady is doing something that shouldn’t be humanly possible — playing football at the age of 44. Not only that, but he’s doing so at a very high level. The seven-time Super Bowl champion will be 45 when the 2022 regular season begins, but age is nothing but a number to him.
Brady led the NFL in completions, pass attempts, passing yards, and touchdowns in 2021. He didn’t show any signs of slowing, which likely also contributed to his desire to keep playing.
Rich Eisen asked Jason Licht about the Buccaneers’ plan for Brady through the 2022 season and beyond, but the general manager is keeping everything close to the vest.
“You know what, I’m going to be pretty vague there, too,” Licht said. “We might have some kind of adjustment for cap space. I never talk public about contracts, so that’s tough to do. All I know is Tom’s going to be playing for us this year, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Well said, Jason.