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Tom Brady Rumors: 'Several' Buccaneers Players Feel QB Won't Return to Tampa Bay

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 21, 2023

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 16: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Several Tampa Bay Buccaneers players reportedly believe quarterback Tom Brady has played his final game as a Buc.

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, multiple players felt Brady's actions and demeanor following an NFC Wild Card Round playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys indicated that his time in Tampa was over.

One player said, "I'd be surprised if he's back," while another added, "He sounded like a person saying goodbye for good."

To no surprise, ESPN's Adam Schefter added Brady is expected to pursue an opportunity with a "winning franchise" if he decides to keep playing.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Some QB updates from ESPN's Postseason NFL Countdown on Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Derek Carr and Lamar Jackson: <a href="https://t.co/nvtC06bw0p">pic.twitter.com/nvtC06bw0p</a>

Brady is set to take some time before making a decision on what he wants to do in 2023. His options include returning to the Bucs, retiring or signing with another team in free agency.

After spending the first 20 years of his career with the New England Patriots and winning six Super Bowls during that time, Brady signed with the Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season.

That move paid instant dividends, as Brady led Tampa to a Super Bowl win at the conclusion of his first season with the team. The Bucs seemed poised for another deep run last year after Brady finished as the NFL MVP runner-up, but they were upended by the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round.

Brady initially retired after the 2021 season, but he announced his return about a month later, and Tampa Bay was viewed as a Super Bowl contender once again.

The 2022 season was the biggest struggle of Brady's career, though, as he went 8-9, marking his first-ever losing season.

Tampa still reached the playoffs because of the weakness of the NFC South, but the Buccaneers were clearly overmatched in their wild-card meeting with the Cowboys, losing 31-14.

As difficult as 2022 was for Brady and the Bucs, the veteran signal-caller still put up solid numbers even at the age of 45.

He threw the ball a career-high 733 times, completing 66.8 percent of his attempts for 4,694 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The major issues for Brady were the fact that he had almost no running game to speak of and a banged-up offensive line that often left him under pressure.

The Bucs would likely have to make some personnel changes to accommodate a Brady return and give him a true chance to win in 2023, and the changes have already started.

Tampa fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, which could be a sign that Brady isn't expected back, as Rapoport noted that Brady and Leftwich are close.

If Brady decides to play elsewhere, Rapoport reported that the Las Vegas Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans would be among his top potential landing spots.

Vegas would perhaps make the most sense since his longtime offensive coordinator in New England, Josh McDaniels, is the head coach. Brady would also have a strong host of weapons in Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, plus a legitimate running game led by Josh Jacobs, if he re-signs.

On paper, the Raiders look to be a better situation for Brady than the Bucs, and they are undoubtedly in the market for a quarterback, as Derek Carr's days in Vegas appear to be over.

If Brady does leave, his tenure in Tampa will have ended in disappointment, but he will have also left an indelible mark on the franchise thanks to leading them to their second Super Bowl title.