Tom Brady Says He 'Felt Some Pressure' to End Retirement Because of Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 2, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 01: Tom Brady looks on during Capital One's The Match VI - Brady & Rodgers v Allen & Mahomes at Wynn Golf Club on June 01, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for The Match)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for The Match

The impending arrival of NFL free agency led Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady to reconsider his retirement.

Brady said Thursday following Capital One's The Match he was pressured into returning to the gridiron with free agency on the horizon, per ESPN's Jenna Laine:

"At this stage, it's like 55% yes and 45% no. It's not 100-0. That's just the reality. It's not that I'm not 100% committed, it's just as soon as I make the commitment to do it, it's like 'Ugh. All right, here we go.' It's like running a marathon. You can't decide two weeks before the marathon, 'Hey, I'm going to start running.' We got right to free agency and I felt some pressure to do it and talked to the team and organization and it all worked out."

Brady announced March 13 he was ending his brief NFL hiatus and rejoining the Buccaneers. That came three days before the start of the NFL's 2022 league year, which signals the start of free agency.

Brady's decision not only benefited Tampa Bay's front office by eliminating the need to search for a new starting quarterback, but it also sent a message to any of the team's free agents and others who might want to sign with the Bucs.

Tampa Bay managed to retain the services of Chris Godwin, William Gholston, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis and Leonard Fournette while adding Russell Gage, Akiem Hicks and Shaq Mason.

Thanks in part to Brady sticking around, the Buccaneers are widely viewed as title contenders. They're the betting favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook to win the NFC (+330) and have the second-best Super Bowl odds (+700) behind the Buffalo Bills (+600).

That's probably not the case if Brady's retirement had been final. When he announced his return, most of the Bucs' best alternatives had either been traded elsewhere or reaffirmed their commitments to their current team.

The burden Brady felt in March was likely shared by general manager Jason Licht, who would've had to scramble to pivot in a different direction.

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