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Tom Brady's Dead Cap Hit on Bucs Contract Will Be 2nd Most in NFL History If Voided

Adam WellsJanuary 17, 2023

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 16: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass during the second quarter of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

After making significant contract changes to multiple players over the past two years in an effort to extend their championship window with Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves in a precarious position heading into this offseason.

Per Spotrac's Michael Ginnitti, the Bucs could have the second-largest dead cap charge in NFL history with Brady's deal set to be voided on March 15.

Spotrac @spotrac

Tom Brady's contract will automatically void on March 15th, leaving behind a $35.1M dead cap hit to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Buccaneers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Buccaneers</a>. <br><br>It will be the 2nd largest single season dead hit in history, behind Matt Ryan's $40.5M this past season with the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Falcons?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Falcons</a>.<a href="https://t.co/LmgwonlYOU">https://t.co/LmgwonlYOU</a>

Ginnitti did note the Bucs can avoid the full $35.1 million dead cap hit if they sign Brady to an extension prior to March 15, with the extension serving as a real deal or a placeholder deal if he retires after June 1 that would allow them to spread the charges out over multiple years.

In the wake of Tampa's 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Game on Monday, Brady's future became the main topic of conversation. The seven-time Super Bowl champion wasn't ready to provide any insights into his thought process.

"I'm gonna go home and get a good night's sleep—as good as I can tonight," Brady told reporters after the game. "This has been all I've focused on—this game. It'll just be one day at a time. Truly."

While it remains unclear if Brady will be back for a 24th NFL season, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported on Dec. 31 that a return to the Bucs isn't out of the question if he does play.

The Athletic's Mike Jones recently listed the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots as potential landing spots for Brady.

The Buccaneers are currently projected to be $43.9 million over the 2023 salary cap. The New Orleans Saints are the only team in bigger cap trouble right now at $53.4 million over.

Brady originally signed an extension with the Bucs in March 2021. It was labeled as a four-year extension, but the final three years were void years to keep the cap charge in 2022 at a low figure.

Per Spotrac, Brady's $11.9 million cap hit this season ranked 17th among all quarterbacks.

It's not unheard of for a quarterback to rework their contract in order to help the team's cap situation before retiring. Drew Brees renegotiated his deal with the Saints in February 2021 to save the team $24 million against the cap. He retired the following month.

Brady just finished his third season with the Buccaneers. He led the team to the postseason in each of those three seasons, including a victory in Super Bowl 55. The 45-year-old set new NFL records with 490 completions and 733 attempts during the 2022 season.