The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are firmly back toward building another Super Bowl contender with Tom Brady under center for another season. The star quarterback’s return puts the franchise under the spotlight to compete for a second championship in three years.
The conversation can’t help but naturally shift to how many more years Brady wants to play. Despite that, the Buccaneers are purposely not moving that discussion along.
Tom Brady unsurprisingly returns for 23rd season
After 40 days in “retirement,” Tom Brady took to social media to announce his return to the NFL for a 23rd campaign.
The Buccaneers operated through the early stages of the offseason with the back-pocket notion that the star quarterback could change his mind. Brady’s decision to play another season quickly opens the door for the franchise to compete for another Super Bowl.
The 44-year-old is still playing at an elite level, coming off an MVP-caliber campaign, posting a career-high and league-leading 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes. He maintains a strong internal passion for the game that will allow him to add to his already first-ballot Hall of Fame career.
However, his future beyond the 2022 season remains a mystery that the Buccaneers are methodically not providing clarity.
Buccaneers purposely give uncertain answer on Tom Brady’s future beyond the 2022 NFL season
As much as the excitement around the Buccaneers remains on having Tom Brady back for another season, the conversation can’t help but shift beyond 2022.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion is scheduled to make roughly over $20 million in the final year of his contract. He holds an $8.9 million base salary along with an $8 million signing bonus and a $1.47 million roster bonus. With the Buccaneers hoping to secure the roster around Brady, the team could extend his contract.
However, general manager Jason Licht swiftly avoided discussions revolving around the star quarterback playing more than one season.
“We’ll get to that when we get to it,” Licht told reporters via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Right now we’re focused on what we have and what we need to do in the next few days.”
The Buccaneers are getting ahead of the conversation while also operating in the background without any additional noise. Tampa Bay also doesn’t want to add more to chatter that only Brady will only have an answer.
Meanwhile, The Athletics‘ Jeff Howe tweeted on Tuesday that Brady will likely adjust his contract to free up cap space. Nonetheless, the focus remains on the upcoming campaign and addressing that imminent situation when the time comes.
Tampa Bay is embracing the all-in approach for 2022 campaign
With Brady back in the fold, the Buccaneers possess a straightforward approach.
The 44-year-old’s return keeps the franchise in a win-now mode to maximize what may be his final NFL season. Licht recently underlined that having Brady will help the team convince players to join the mix.
“Well, it certainly helped,” Licht said via USA TODAY Sports. “When you have a player like Tom, who’s the greatest quarterback of all-time, if not player, players want to play with a guy like that. So, it certainly helped, I can’t lie. We’ve got the ultimate cheat code with Tom. So, we’re going to take advantage of it while we have it. I think players like it here, regardless. But, having a player like that throwing the ball to them, or even being on the other side of the ball knowing that he’s your quarterback, it certainly helps.”
Their efforts have started with center Ryan Jensen returning while running back Leonard Fournette inked a three-year, $21 million deal to stay in Tampa Bay. Although Rob Gronkowski joked about holding the Buccaneers’ legs over the fire, Brady’s return should all but guarantee he will be back for at least one more season.
The band isn’t entirely back together, but expect the Buccaneers to make all the stops to build another Super Bowl contender.