Tom Brady Is Coming Back to the NFL in 2020. He’s Joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots, NFL, American Football, Wild Card Playoff, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA - 04 Jan 2020 Tom Brady, Quarterback of the New England Patriots (12), throws the ball 4 Jan 2020
Dave Shopland/BPI/Shutterstock

Following speculation that he might retire after the 2019 season, Tom Brady expects to be on the field. Brady took to Instagram to write that he has “more to prove” and is ready to be “in the arena again.” That arena will not include the New England Patriots, as Brady announced that he will be playing for another team this coming season.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally written in January 2020, before Brady signed with the Buccaneers.

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After losing in the AFC Wild Card Round of the playoffs against the Tennessee Titans, Brady was asked by reporters about his future plans, saying that it was “probably unlikely” he would retire. Based on his Instagram post, it appears that Brady isn’t close to finishing things yet. And he isn’t: According to Adam Schefter and other reports, Brady will be playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Even though he’ll be 43 when the 2020 NFL season starts, the quarterback previously said that he hoped to play until he was 45 years old, telling ESPN in 2017 that “45 is a pretty good number right now.” One reason Brady has been so confident in playing past 40 is due to his TB12 training program, which he developed with his personal trainer Alex Guerrero.

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Here’s a look at Brady’s post:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I just wanted to say to all of our fans, THANK YOU! After a few days of reflection, I am so grateful and humbled by the unconditional support you have shown me the past two decades. Running out of that tunnel every week is a feeling that is hard to explain. I wish every season ended in a win, but that’s not the nature of sports (or life). Nobody plays to lose. But the reward for working hard is just that, the work!! I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way. Every one of us that works at Gillette Stadium strived to do their best, spent themselves at a worthy cause, and prepared to fail while daring greatly (h/t Teddy Roosevelt). And for that, we’ve been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won’t show – the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about. In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You dont always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that’s right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

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What makes Brady’s plans even more intriguing than usual is that he has absolute freedom to decide what to do next: For the first time in his 20-year career, Brady will be an unrestricted free agent in March. The Patriots can’t keep Brady with the franchise tag, which means he either could return to the Patriots on a new contract—if the team wants him; all signs have pointed to that being an option—or sign with a new team.

After winning six Super Bowl championships with the franchise, it would be a major shock to see Brady in another uniform. It wouldn’t be unprecedented though. Iconic quarterbacks like San Francisco 49ers star Joe Montana, Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas, Jets icon Joe Namath, and Indianapolis Colts star Peyton Manning all finished their careers on different teams to mixed results. Montana ended his career with the Kansas City Chiefs; Unitas with the San Diego Chargers; Namath with the Los Angeles Rams; and Manning with the Denver Broncos, where he won a Super Bowl before retiring.

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft told NBC Sports that it’s his “hope and prayer” that Brady will return to the team or retire. With retirement looking like an unlikely option, it’ll be up to the two sides to see if they can work out a deal.

While it’s possible he’ll return to the Patriots, here are some places Brady could land—other than New England:

Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers seem ready to move on from Philip Rivers, who is also a free agent this offseason. While Brady is older than Rivers by a bit, the team is about to move into a multi-billion dollar new stadium that they’ll share with the Rams, a team filled with young stars like Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Jared Goff. The Chargers have not had much star power or a consistent fan base since moving to Los Angeles from San Diego, and adding Brady would certainly put fans in the seats—and make the Chargers and absolute must-watch team in 2020. On top of that, the team has strong offensive talent with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Hunter Henry on the roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The team has reportedly made Brady a big offer at over $30 million and will try and woo him with a talented corps of wide receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. With the Titans and Patriots off the table, the Bucs and Chargers look like the most likely options.

Indianapolis Colts: Even though it’s not as high-profile as a city as LA, the Colts could be an interesting landing spot. Brady’s former backup Jacoby Brissett had an uneven season, and after Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired, adding Brady would give the team a massive jolt of excitement. On top of that, the Colts have a large amount of cap space ($96 million) and could try and blow Brady out of the water with a big-money deal to finish his career.

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Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders: With the Raiders franchise moving from Oakland to Las Vegas and needing to build a mostly new fanbase (die-hard fans from Oakland likely will travel a bit for the team), adding someone like Brady would generate an enormous amount of buzz for head coach Jon Gruden. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t played to the level of the big contract extension he signed a couple years ago, and that could leave the door open for a move to try and get Brady.

Tennessee Titans: Would Brady go to the team that just beat him in the playoffs to potentially end his Patriots career? Stranger things have happened in sports. Brady’s former teammate Mike Vrabel is now head coach in Tennessee, and with the team seemingly moving on from former No.2-pick Marcus Mariota, the Titans could try and sway Brady with a short-term contract. The Titans have one of the best running backs in the NFL with Derrick Henry and that could make Tennessee a less pressure-packed situation for Brady to land. UPDATE: The Titans stuck with Ryan Tannehill after he led the team through the playoffs and signed him to a new deal. Brady is NOT going to Tennessee. 

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