Tom Brady is reportedly expected to retire after the 2022 NFL season.
For real this time.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Brady will enter this season with the expectation he's playing his final professional football games. While it's "conceivable" that Brady ultimately changes his mind, it's considered far more likely that he walks away and begins his post-playing career as an announcer on Fox.
The network signed Brady to a 10-year, $375 million contract in May. It's expected he'll serve as both a lead color commentator and an ambassador, with more formal details to be announced when Brady actually retires.
The future Hall of Famer initially announced he was stepping away from football in February, only to backtrack a little more than a month later. Behind the scenes, the Miami Dolphins were engaged in unprecedented tampering with Brady and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton that would eventually cost them multiple future draft picks.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported the Dolphins wanted Brady and Payton as a package deal, at first luring the quarterback as a part-owner in "retirement" before Brady would unretire with plans to play in Miami. Brian Flores' racial discrimination lawsuit reportedly quelled those plans, and Brady decided to return to the Bucs.
That said, Brady's third year in Tampa has already looked nothing like his first two. Head coach Bruce Arians and tight end Rob Gronkowski both retired, and Brady himself took time off in training camp to deal with a personal matter. Rapoport reported most of Brady's off time was spent vacationing in the Bahamas with his family to fulfill a promise he made during his first retirement.
It seems Brady's return came largely as an attempt to fulfill a promise to himself, as he'd publicly said several times he planned to play until he was 45. As he prepares to accomplish that goal Sunday, it appears we're gearing up for a true 17-game sendoff for the greatest of all time.