Tom Brady on Monday night sure looked and sounded like someone playing his final game for the Buccaneers.
Brady’s Bucs stood no chance against the Dallas Cowboys and were on the wrong end of a 31-14 beatdown in the wild-card round, ending one of Brady’s most frustrating seasons in his brilliant career. The future Hall of Famer had a strange send-off at the end of his postgame press conference that made it seem like he was done with Tampa Bay.
It certainly wouldn’t be surprising. Brady’s contract is up, and there’s no guarantee he’ll even play next season — when he’s 46 years old. The Bucs clearly had a significant step back this season, and there are sure to be a handful of teams trying to convince him their pastures are greener.
On top of that, the Bucs cleaned house Thursday, firing offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and a host of other assistants. The prevailing thought was it was all part of the reset, one that included a change at quarterback.
FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd, however, presented an interesting theory about the Bucs and Brady on Thursday. Cowherd believes the overhaul was a signal to Brady that they were willing to change, and Cowherd also doesn’t think teams like the Raiders, 49ers or Dolphins make as much sense as staying put.
“That is Tampa’s public plea to Tom Brady to stay in Tampa,” Cowherd said Thursday on FS1. “Tampa right now is selling Tom Brady on, No. 1, (ex-wife Gisele Bundchen) lives with the kids in Miami. You wanna go play for the Niners and Raiders, 3,200 miles away? Miami is keeping Tua (Tagovailoa), according to the reports from Adam Schefter.
“By the way, Ryan Jensen comes back at center. Tristan Wirfs, Shaq Mason, three of our five guys are Pro Bowlers on the offensive line, we just had bad injuries. So, I was told a week ago from somebody close to Brady that the lack of details on the coaching staff, the offensive coaching staff drove Brady nuts. Too sloppy, too often. So, now, the Buccaneers go public, leak it, this is them saying ‘Tom, we hear you, and we want you back.'”
Cowherd added at the end, “(Brady) probably will get first choice on coordinator.”
Brady’s good buddy, Julian Edelman, isn’t as sold.
Assuming Brady doesn’t have a major issue with Todd Bowles or staying in the Bucs’ organization, this would make a lot of sense. He’d seemingly have a hand in finding the new coordinator, and the opportunity to work with Brady should be something that improves the candidate pool for the Bucs.
The point about the offensive line can’t be overlooked, either. Assuming the aforementioned trio is healthy, the Bucs are an offseason tweak or two away from having a borderline elite O-line. That should be one of the most important football-related requirements for Brady, who looks increasingly unwilling to get hit.
While it wouldn’t be shocking to see Brady leave, especially for a team like the Raiders to reunite with Josh McDaniels, oddsmakers aren’t completely sure he’s leaving, either. DraftKings Sportsbooks this week put out Brady 2023 team odds with the Bucs as a slight favorite over Las Vegas, assuming Brady plays again.