What Tom Brady’s Retirement Means For The 2023 QB Market
Tom Brady’s second retirement announcement has evoked a similar, if tired, response from fans, who feel compelled to look back on the quarterback’s legendary career. But as many focus on the past, several teams around the league must adapt future plans with Brady off the market as a free agent.
There is a long list of teams that likely would have paid Brady an exorbitant amount of money to remain in the league, but no organization is more directly affected by his departure than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As Brady’s team for the past three years, the Bucs made it to the playoffs three times and won the Super Bowl in 2019. But Tampa Bay has been trending in the wrong direction, barely winning a weak NFC South division in 2022, and without a star quarterback at the helm, things become even less certain.
As of Brady’s retirement, the Bucs have two other quarterbacks under contract: Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask. Gabbert, a 33-year-old journeyman, could provide a short-term solution at the position, but it’s unlikely that the Bucs would leave Brady’s offense in his hands for long.
Meanwhile, Trask is entering his third season with the team after getting drafted in 2021 and finally made his first appearance in Week 18 this year. But after landing behind Gabbert on the depth chart for the past two seasons, it’s difficult to assess his ability as a starting NFL quarterback. Free agent targets for the Bucs could include Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady’s former backup for the Patriots, and Carson Wentz.
Before Brady announced his retirement for the second time, Tampa Bay was not the only team interested in signing him, and the Las Vegas Raiders were repeatedly tied to Brady in rumors and even official reports. The seven-time Super Bowl winner would have fit well in the Raiders’ current scheme; head coach Josh McDaniels was once his quarterback’s coach in New England and the team already has valuable offensive weapons in wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs. But with that reality now off the table, the Raiders will have to consider other options.
Las Vegas seems intent on parting ways with Derek Carr, which leaves them with quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Chase Garbers. The team is almost certainly going to test the open market. Like the Bucs, Garoppolo also seems to be the Raiders’ most likely option as another former New England product with a reputable track record as the starter in San Francisco. But several rumors also suggest that the team could pursue Aaron Rodgers, which would reunite the Green Bay quarterback with Adams, his favorite receiver for many years as a Packer.
The third team tied to Brady before his announcement was the 49ers, who suddenly became a top candidate to receive the quarterback after they announced that Brock Purdy’s UCL injury, which he suffered in the NFC Championship game, would require nearly a year to heal.
The organization has already confirmed that it is parting ways with Garoppolo, and without Purdy or Brady, it will likely turn to 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance to take over Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Lance was named the 49ers’ starter in 2022 but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. He has since had two surgeries but should be available for the start of next season.
Though there were three apparent candidates to sign a now-retired Brady, several longshots were reported to have also inquired about his status at some point. All of these teams must now resort to other options as well.
The Dolphins, once rumored to be his next destination several years ago, were likely going to go in another direction anyway, as Tua Tagovailoa recently cleared concussion protocol and plans to be ready for the 2023 season.
A Brady reunion with the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick enticed many fans as the quarterback briefly entered free agency at the end of his season with the Bucs. At the very least, owner Robert Kraft has requested that the longtime Patriot signs a one-day contract with the team as a farewell. But New England was never a serious contender in what would have been a lucrative sweepstakes for Brady, as the team will likely focus on sharpening young passer Mac Jones in 2023 after a turbulent sophomore year with the team.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, a former Patriots player and teammate of Brady’s, could also be in search of a new quarterback, as multiple reports during the season suggested that the team was parting ways with Ryan Tannehill. The truth is that Tennessee has more options than nearly any other team in the league to handle its issues at quarterback. The Titans can retain Tannehill, rebuild with 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis, pursue Carr or a free agent, or even trade for a higher draft pick in an effort to secure Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Brady’s retirement does not affect their situation.
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