It appears Tom Brady kept leaving the door open for a potential return to the NFL for a reason. On Sunday, three days before the official start of the 2022 offseason and just one month after announcing his retirement, Brady revealed on social media that he is, in fact, coming back. Forty days of retirement was apparently enough, because the legendary quarterback is now — once again — set to start for the Buccaneers.
“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady wrote on Twitter. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business.”
Brady’s abrupt reverse of course comes just hours after the QB posted Instagram video of a conversation with Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, in which the seven-time Super Bowl champion appeared hesitant when asked if he was actually done playing. He seemingly spent the better part of his retirement fielding questions about a potential comeback, including on his own “Let’s Go!” podcast. Bucs coach Bruce Arians told reporters at the scouting combine that Brady “slammed” the door on a possible 2022 return, but general manager Jason Licht hinted Brady’s decision wasn’t actually final.
Brady himself, meanwhile, said several times he was content with his move to other endeavors, but he also refused to rule out resuming his playing career down the road. A number of his former teammates, including Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski and Patriots running back Brandon Bolden, also predicted Brady would return to the field.
Brady’s sudden return shifts the entire landscape of the NFL. Not only will the 44-year-old QB get a chance to re-establish Tampa Bay as a dynasty, reprising his role as the Bucs’ signal-caller two years after winning Super Bowl MVP. He’ll also likely affect decisions of some of the Bucs’ notable pending free agents, such as Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette and cornerback Carlton Davis. And then there’s the fact the rest of the NFC will have to get past the ageless champion yet again, with the Bucs likely vaulting right back to the top of NFC South odds.
Arians told reporters at the combine the Bucs were unlikely to land another star QB via trade or free agency, so Brady’s return also ensures Tampa Bay won’t have to be in the market this offseason. The Bucs had been linked to embattled Texans QB Deshaun Watson, now reportedly drawing trade offers from around the NFL, in recent days.