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Bruce Arians Says Bucs Would Have 'Turned over Every Stone' for Tom Brady Replacement

Adam WellsMarch 27, 2022

Elsa/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were prepared to explore every possible option at quarterback if Tom Brady had stayed retired.

Speaking to NFL Network's Steve Wyche (h/t NFL.com's Adam Maya), Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said the team had already "started to uncover as many stones as we possibly could" before Brady announced he was coming back in 2022. 

"We would've turned over every stone. ... [general manager] Jason [Licht] did his calls," Arians added. "We were in the midst of all that stuff when Tom decided to come back and thank God we could say, 'No thanks, brother. We're out of it.'"

Brady originally announced his retirement from the NFL on Feb. 1, but he had a change of heart just 40 days later in a statement on Twitter:

Tom Brady @TomBrady

These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. 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 LFG <a href="https://t.co/U0yhRKVKVm">pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm</a>

When Brady originally retired, Arians told reporters that Kyle Trask would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job.

Trask was the No. 64 pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft. He didn't appear in a game as a rookie in Tampa Bay. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Tampa Bay was among the teams expected to explore a trade for Russell Wilson, though at the time there was no indication the Seattle Seahawks were going to move the nine-time Pro Bowler. 

Wilson and a fourth-round draft pick were traded to the Denver Broncos on March 16 for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, quarterback Drew Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, and tight end Noah Fant

Per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com, the Buccaneers were expected to be among the teams that made a formal trade offer to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson. 

Watson and a 2024 fifth-round draft pick wound up being traded to the Cleveland Browns on March 20 in exchange for five draft picks, including first-rounders in 2022, 2023 and 2024. 

Brady's return completely changed the tenor of Tampa Bay's offseason. Instead of having to search for a quarterback, the front office could focus its efforts on re-signing free agents and bringing in new players. 

Cornerback Carlton Davis and center Ryan Jensen agreed to deals to return to the Bucs. Wide receiver Russell Gage and safety Logan Ryan signed with the team as free agents. Guard Shaq Mason was acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots to replace the retired Ali Marpet. 

There was no indication from Brady's performance in 2021 that he needed to retire. Despite being 44 years old, he led the NFL in completions (485), attempts (719), passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43). 

The Bucs figure to be one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the NFC next season with Brady. They won the NFC South in 2021 with a 13-4 record but lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 30-27, in the NFC Divisional Round. 

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