Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were bounced from the postseason Monday night, following a 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round. It was a rough end to a shaky season. Now the 45-year-old is a free agent a year after announcing his retirement, then cancelling those plans. He'll have options if he wants to keep playing.
While Brady's 2022 season wasn't his best, many teams would love to add him under center. In 2022 he set career-highs for completions (490) and attempts (733), which is understandable considering the 17-game season. He finished third in the NFL in passing yards (4,694) and had 25 touchdowns against nine interceptions. But his passer rating of 90.7 was his lowest since 2019 and his QBR was the lowest since the stat began being tracked in 2006. He also averaged 6.4 yards per attempt, his lowest mark since 2002.
Despite all that, there are a number of teams where Brady would fit in right away. Here's a look at five options for the greatest quarterback ever as he enters free agency.
Las Vegas Raiders
Tom Brady's relationship with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels goes back more than 20 years and they won six Super Bowls together with the New England Patriots. That's not enough of a reason to head to Vegas, but the spot has a ton of upside. Brady would have a few great weapons at his disposal, including a true No. 1 receiver in Davante Adams, a great slot receiver in Hunter Renfrow -- Brady loves undersized slot guys -- a phenomenal tight end in Darren Waller and a franchise left tackle in Kolton Miller. The Raiders will also have about $50 million in cap space once they cut Derek Carr. That could be used to fortify the offensive line or re-sign Josh Jacobs.
Put all that together, mix in a rabid fan base desperate for a winner and Brady could do worse.
Brady flirted with Miami the last time he was a free agent and, if anything, the team is far more attractive now. The Dolphins have two dynamic playmakers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, plus a solid offensive line. Mike McDaniel is a budding star as a coach and Tua Tagovailoa's struggle to stay healthy has cracked the door open for a new quarterback to enter. The defense has some upside, though it needs work.
The Dolphins are currently about $16 million over the cap for 2023 but there are some restructure opportunities and some cuts that could be made. What will lure Brady is the prospect of throwing to Hill and Waddle and working with McDaniel.
New Orleans Saints
As always, the Saints are way over the cap for 2023 and, as always, they'll find a way to restructure their way out of cap hell. Such is the genius of New Orleans' cap guru Khai Harley. Michael Thomas and Chris Olave make excellent targets, the offensive line is shaky but Alvin Kamara would be helpful out of the backfield. Things aren't as bleak as they look with a little fine-tuning. And the defense is excellent.
The real draw here would be if Sean Payton decided to return to coach Brady so each could take one last run at a Super Bowl. It would also make sense to stay in the NFC South, which is a weaker division, clearing the path for a playoff run.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Things didn't end well in Brady's third year in Tampa, as the Bucs finished 8-9 before getting bounced in the first round of the postseason. But in Year 1 they went 11-5 before winning a Super Bowl and in Year 2 they went 13-4 and were a Matt Stafford miracle heave away from reaching another Super Bowl. Year 3 was a mess but Brady began rounding into form late in the season. Returning to Tampa carries some pretty serious issues with it though.
The Bucs are currently more than $40 million over the cap in 2023. That can obviously be massaged but it doesn't look like there will be a whole lot of opportunities to add to the roster. There are a number of key free agents and the team will need help off the edge, at cornerback, on the offensive line and at running back. It's a bit of a mess. But it's Brady's mess and he may want another shot with the same guys around him.
Retirement is obviously on the table for Brady as well. He retired last offseason before deciding to come back for another run in Tampa. That ended pretty terribly and he had a subpar season by his standards. Maybe it's finally time to hang em up.