Top Landing Spots for Tom Brady If He Returns for 2023 NFL season

Alex KayContributor IDecember 13, 2022

Top Landing Spots for Tom Brady If He Returns for 2023 NFL season

0 of 4

    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    After a retirement that lasted 40 days earlier this year, Tom Brady opted to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2022 season.

    While the campaign hasn't gone quite to plan—per DraftKings Sportsbook, the club has only the 10th-best Super Bowl odds and isn't even a lock to win the abysmal NFC South after opening the year as the conference favorites—there is a chance the future Hall of Famer decides to run it back, regardless of how his club finishes this year.

    According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, sources close to Brady revealed that "all options are on the table" when it comes to his plans for next season.

    The superstar quarterback is currently playing out the final season of a two-year, $50 million deal he signed with the Buccaneers in 2020. Once the season is finished, Brady will potentially hit free agency for only the second time in his illustrious 23-year career.

    While retirement will again be an appealing option—Brady had previously admitted envisioning hanging up his cleats at the age of 45—there appears to be a real chance that the G.O.A.T.'s legacy carries into 2023 and even beyond.

    If Brady does elect to keep going into his age 46 campaign, there will be no shortage of teams interested in his services.

    However, the seven-time Super Bowl winner will almost certainly desire a strong chance of contending for a record-extending title during what would likely be his final stop in the league, narrowing down the list of viable landing spots significantly.

    With that in mind, here are some teams Brady could realistically wind up with in 2023:

San Francisco 49ers

1 of 4

    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scrambles and runs with the ball during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers can offer Brady something no other organization is able to: the chance to play for his hometown team.

    Brady grew up in nearby San Mateo, California, and attended games at Candlestick Park during his youth. He was a fan of Joe Montana and watched as the legendary quarterback led the Niners to four championships between 1982 and 1990.

    During his recent return to the Bay Area, where his Buccaneers suffered a disappointing 35-7 defeat, Brady told FOX's Erin Andrews that he requested 100 tickets for friends and family. He also spoke after the game about what it meant to be able to play in front of them (via CNN's Jacob Lev):

    "Love having everyone here. Nice for my family to come close. I think they had a lot of people from the neighborhood come. It's not going to change the outcome of the game, unfortunately."

    Brady reportedly desired to sign with his hometown team before choosing the Buccaneers in 2020 and has watched the 49ers consistently contend under head coach Kyle Shanahan despite the team's issues under center and injury problems.

    Prior to their head-to-head meeting, Shanahan spoke about how Brady hasn't shown any signs of decline and the high level he continues to play at (via FoxNews.com's Chantz Martin):

    "He plays the position better than anyone ever, and he's definitely the GOAT from what I've seen, but I don't say that just because he has won Super Bowls."

    Given the 49ers' quarterback woes this season, Brady should be welcomed with open arms if he wanted to ply his trade there next year. San Francisco is currently starting Brock Purdy, the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2022 draft, after both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo—Brady's former backup—went down with injuries.

    Given the inconsistent play of Lance during his limited time as the team's QB1, it's conceivable that the Niners wouldn't want to make the mistake of passing on Brady for a second time and bring him in to make a Super Bowl run.

New York Giants

2 of 4

    TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 22: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Tom Brady (12) scrambles for a first down and hops up excited after the play during the regular season game between the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 22, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The New York Giants would be one of the stranger destinations for Brady to wind up with after the club ruined his chances at adding two additional Lombardi Trophies and a perfect season to his resume. However, it's actually quite conceivable that the GOAT signs with a club that once tormented him.

    Despite the painful memories that New England Patriots fans associate with this organization, the Giants reportedly had a real chance to ink the quarterback when he first hit free agency.

    The Ringer's Kevin Clark noted that New York was one of the preferred destinations for Brady in 2020.

    While the reasons at the time were largely geographical—Brady maintained a residence in Manhattan until 2021—the allure of the country's biggest media market wasn't enough to sell him on a team that was flailing through one of the lowest points in franchise history under former head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman.

    Big Blue has improved markedly since then. After hiring a promising head coach in Brian Daboll and constructing a competitive roster under general manager Joe Schoen, the Giants have bounced back from a dismal 4-13 season to become a legitimate playoff contender.

    While the G-Men may have a promising 7-5-1 record, though, the team will likely struggle to compete for a championship due to its lack of offensive upside.

    The inconsistent play of quarterback Daniel Jones has held the Giants back, but with the 25-year-old set to hit free agency this upcoming offseason, the team may have an opportunity to upgrade to Brady.

    Even if he isn't the long-term solution New York has been seeking since the retirement of former nemesis Eli Manning, Brady is a perfect stopgap who would have the Giants competing for Super Bowls as long as he remains in the Big Apple.

New England Patriots

3 of 4

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks towards his bench as New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) warms up prior to an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
    AP Photo/Elise Amendola

    It would hardly be a shock if Brady wanted to return to New England Patriots and finish his career where it started after spending three seasons away.

    Although the Patriots have attempted to move on from Brady by spending a first-round pick on Mac Jones, it's becoming apparent that the Alabama product isn't the franchise cornerstone they'd hoped he would be when they took him 15th in 2021.

    Jones has done decently well for a player thrown right into the fire and has had to learn on the job, but New England doesn't appear to be a true title threat with him under center.

    He has just seven touchdowns against seven interceptions through nine starts this year, far off the pace from the 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions Brady threw during his second year starting two decades ago. Granted, Jones missed three games to an ankle injury and was benched in a fourth.

    Reports have been surfacing that Brady is reportedly interested in coming back for one more go with his longtime employer. The Athletic's Jeff Howe pointed out that Brady and Belichick "still have an abundance of respect for one another" and noted that New England will have over $50 million in cap space next season.

    Howe believes Jones wouldn't even need to be dealt if the Patriots did bring Brady back. The team could keep the young quarterback under contract until 2025 and have him learn from the greatest of all time.

    It's a win-win scenario that would set up the Patriots to not only become an immediate contender but could also result in long-term success if Jones is able to lift his game with Brady as his mentor.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4 of 4

    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    If Brady does continue his career after this season, the Buccaneers would likely have a real chance at retaining the quarterback.

    Brady chose Tampa Bay after he was strongly courted by the organization in the spring of 2020. Reports surfaced that the team was willing to give the quarterback anything he desired, a pitch that clearly resonated with the then-43-year-old.

    The strategy paid off for the Bucs after Brady brought former teammates like Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski to help guide the organization to its second championship.

    While much of the personnel has changed following that impressive run to a Lombardi Trophy, and Bruce Arians has since retired from coaching, the Bucs remain a contender thanks to the prowess of their signal-caller.

    Although Tampa is undergoing a trying campaign marred by injury and inconsistency, the team still has a nucleus capable of raising another banner.

    Brady showed he could still pull off magnificent comebacks in key moments when he erased a 13-point deficit in the waning minutes of a primetime matchup with the rival New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. It makes Tampa a foe few will want to see during the postseason.

    If the Buccaneers manage to win it all, it seems most conceivable that Brady would opt to end his career on a high note. If the club comes up short again in the playoffs, the quarterback could re-sign in Tampa with a chance to avenge that defeat in 2023.

X