Was Sunday’s heartbreaker the end for Tom Brady? Or was it just the next line of motivation for the seven-time Super Bowl champ to return for a 23rd season?
The question is valid, especially after multiple reports alluded that this season could be Brady’s last, even before the Buccaneers’ 30-27 loss to the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round. The 44-year-old said after the game that he would take time to evaluate his next move.
He echoed that on his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray Monday, saying that his family will play a huge role in his decision.
“I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about,” Brady said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s not always what I want. It’s what we want as a family. And I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.
“It pains [my wife, Gisele] to see me get hit out there,” Brady said. “And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad.”
Brady wrapped up his second season in Tampa Bay looking as youthful as ever. Brady threw for a league-leading 43 touchdowns and 5,316 yards on 67.5% passing. He set the all-time regular season record with 485 completions.
While it seems unfathomable that Brady would walk away after putting up numbers like that, a return does present challenges. The Buccaneers enter the offseason in a cap crunch, with several pieces set to be free agents. Defensive backs Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, center Ryan Jensen, guard Alex Cappa, running back Leonard Fournette, receiver Chris Godwin and tight end Rob Gronkowski are all set to hit the open market. Tampa Bay currently has just $19.4 million in salary cap space for 2022.
Gronkowski, who appeared tied at the hip of what Brady does, said Monday he would consider coming back to Tampa Bay, even if Brady hangs ’em up.
“There could be a scenario like that,” Gronkowski said. “I will never throw anything off the board because you never know how anything is going to play out. It’s the NFL. It’s one of the craziest businesses out there. You see organizations just totally flip year in and year out sometimes.”
As for when Brady makes a decision, don’t expect anything soon.
“I think the point is there’s no really rush for me to figure out what’s next,” Brady said. “You know, I’ll know when I know. It’s a day after the season. So I think for all of us, you know, we can all decompress a bit. It’s been six straight months of football, every day consumed by day in and day out football. And I think now it’s just some time to spend some time with my family and spend some time with my kids.”
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