The 2021 NFL offseason was defined by movement at the quarterback position. Thirteen teams had a change at QB last offseason, either through the addition of a talented rookie class or through shuffling of starters from other spots around the league. There won’t be nearly as much movement at the QB position in 2022. The first big move was Aaron Rodgers, then Russell Wilson, and now Tom Brady changed the QB market. Tom Brady is on the way back. The seven-time Super Bowl champion announced a comeback. As the free agency began, the news shifted plans off. The QB situation just got more interesting.
At 44, he still offers top-five passing production. Brady is literally at the top of his Hall of Fame game, fresh off one of the best seasons of his career. There was no football reason for him to hang it up. The NFC South was wide open. Sean Payton retired, and Brady had retired. Tampa Bay is a lock to win the division and return to the playoffs. The Rams and Bucs are the Super Bowl favorites in the NFC. Brady’s return threw the entire 2022 QB market into a tizzy. Luring Brady back means Tampa is all in for 2022. Head coach Bruce Arians may end up hanging it up if Brady retires (again) come 2023.
“Tom Brady loves to play football as much as anyone I have ever been around,” Bucs head coach said in. “As Tom said, his place right now is on the football field. He is still playing at a championship level and was as productive as anyone in the league last season. We are ecstatic that he decided to continue playing and working toward winning another championship.”
The news is consequential not only for Brady but for Deshaun Watson. Buccaneers were discussing a Deshaun Watson trade. If there was no trade, Tampa has little cap room. Bucs may have settled for a mid-tier free agent to compete with Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask at QB. Watson feels like the final big QB domino to fall before teams resort to bridge options and lock in on the draft, but Brady’s sudden change of heart both clarifies and muddies the entire picture.
As noted, Watson’s market is now down a suitor, perhaps bringing us closer to another blockbuster move. The Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints both have made trade offers for Watson and would like to meet with the quarterback to make sure he would waive his no-trade clause if they were to make a deal. On the other, it may restore new fear in teams around the NFC, who may have been willing to mortgage the future for a 2022 QB upgrade.
With Brady back, Kirk Cousins signing an extension, Falcon’s restructuring Matt Ryan, there is one less starting job. Teddy Bridgewater is going to Miami to back up Tua. Mitchell Trubisky signed with the Steelers looking to be the starter. A QB best shot may be to sit behind Brady for a year and take the helm if he retires again. Jimmy Garoppolo, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Andy Dalton are now on the clock.