Report: Tom Brady's 2021 Return Seen as 'Critical' Piece of Bucs' Financial Plan

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

Tom Brady is signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers through 2021, and his return to the team could be critical toward its bottom line.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Saturday that Bucs ownership is hopeful Brady remains committed beyond this season:

"There's been a growing sense in league circles in recent weeks that Buccaneers ownership views getting Brady back for a second season as a critical piece of their financial picture. The pandemic kept the Buccaneers from selling all tickets for the first time in a very long time. By next year, the public-health crisis likely will have subsided to the point that will allow the Bucs to open the floodgates again."

Florio noted Brady's contract doesn't provide concrete assurance he'll be back. The 43-year-old could make it clear he wants to leave, with the prospect of retirement a tangible lever to force Tampa Bay's hand.

Brady obviously provides a commercial boost for the Buccaneers. As the season opened, he had the highest-selling jersey in the NFL, and his presence would presumably draw in casual fans who might otherwise not attend a home game.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Top 5 selling jerseys, in order: Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Nick Bosa. https://t.co/t6tkYfrn77

Brady's fit on the field may not be ideal in 2021, though.

Through 12 games, the 14-time Pro Bowler has thrown for 3,300 yards with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, the last of which is already tied for his highest total since 2011. Head coach Bruce Arians hasn't refrained from publicly critiquing his starting quarterback, either.

Considering he'll be 44 by the time next season kicks off, it seems reasonable to assume Brady won't be better in 2021; the key will be continuing to stave off a pronounced decline.

The Bucs are second in the NFC South but on pace to earn a wild-card berth at 7-5. Should they make a deep postseason run, continuing with Brady would be straightforward.

In the event Tampa Bay falls flat in the playoffs—or worse, fails to make the postseason—it could lead to a difficult decision.