One thing Tom Brady certainly recognizes as he takes time to ponder his future: The Buccaneers roster next season figures to look a lot different — with or without the seven-time Super Bowl winner.
Unlike last spring when the Bucs defied the odds by retaining every starter from a star-laden lineup that won the franchise’s second NFL championship, general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians are not in a position to replicate that.
First of all, there’s the 44-year-old Brady and his impending decision whether he will retire or return for a 23rd overall and third season with the Bucs, whose bid to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Super Bowl champs ended with a 30-27 loss to Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Brady has one year remaining on his contract and has said in the past he’d like to play until he’s at least 45, maybe even beyond.
But after leading the NFL this season in completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns — while also guiding the Bucs to the most successful regular season in club history — he's not ready to say which way he may be leaning for 2022.
““I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, so you know, we will just take it day by day and kind of see where we are at,” Brady said after Sunday's loss.
Coach Bruce Arians reiterated Monday there’s no timetable for a decision from Brady.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” Arians said. “Take all the time he needs. We’ll see.”
In the meantime, there’s plenty of other planning to do.
Nearly half the roster is eligible for free agency, including wide receiver Chris Godwin; tights ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard; running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Giovani Bernard; linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul; cornerback Carlton Davis; safety Jordan Whitehead; defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; offensive linemen Ryan Jenson and Alex Cappa; and defensive lineman William Gholston.
Arians said the goal as usual is to “reload’’ rather than rebuild, with an emphasis on re-signing as many of their own free agents as possible.
Like Brady, the 32-year-old Gronkowski is not rushing a decision about his future. The quarterback’s favorite target from their days with the New England Patriots was lured out of retirement when Brady signed the Bucs in free agency in 2020.
He has no regrets about rejoining the only starting quarterback he's played with during an 11-year career, and shrugged off questions whether his decision would in any way be tied to what Brady does.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride. There’s no doubt about it. My decision of coming back was definitely solidified. I was very happy that I came back to play football, just being part of this organization,” Gronkowski said.
And, is there a chance he might consider returning to the Bucs, even if Brady doesn’t?
“There could be a scenario like that. I’ll never throw anything off the board because you never know how anything’s ever going to play out. It’s the NFL. It’s one of the craziest businesses out there,” Gronkowski said. “You see organizations just totally flip year in and year out sometimes. I’m really basically going to do, obviously, what’s best for myself in terms of the football world.”
Reid recognized OT fortune
Even the winning coach, in this case Andy Reid, is questioning the NFL’s overtime setup.
One day after Reid’s Chiefs won the OT coin toss, then marched downfield for Travis Kelce’s 8-yard touchdown reception to end an epic divisional round game with Buffalo, Reid recognized how fortunate Kansas City was.
“I had a chance to talk with Sean afterward,” Reid said of Bills coach Sean McDermott, “and that I’m sure is something they’re going to look at again, too. And I wouldn’t be opposed to it — it’s a hard thing. It was great for us last night, but is it great for the game which is the most important thing we should all be looking out for? To make things equal, it probably needs to be able to hit both offenses, both defenses.”
Bills’ Daboll gets another interview with Giants
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is getting a second interview for the vacant Giants head coaching job before some candidates have gotten a chance for a first meeting.
The Giants confirmed that Daboll will meet with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and new general manager Joe Schoen on Tuesday at the team’s headquarters in the Meadowlands sports complex.
Daboll was first interviewed on a video call on Friday, hours after Schoen, the former Bills assistant general manager, was hired to replace the retired Dave Gettleman.
Panthers agree to terms with McAdoo as offensive coordinator
The Panthers agreed to terms with former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo to become their offensive coordinator.
The Associated Press reported last week that the team has settled on McAdoo to replace Joe Brady, who was fired late in the regular season with the offense struggling to produce points.
McAdoo has 15 years of NFL coaching experience, including two seasons (2016-17) as the Giants head coach. He previously worked as the Giants offensive coordinator alongside Eli Manning and as the Packers quarterbacks coach with Aaron Rodgers. The Giants passing offense finished in the top 10 in the league in its two seasons with McAdoo as coordinator.