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Will Tom Brady play in 2023? 6 team options if the QB returns

As Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the final four weeks of the regular season, the GOAT and 2020 Super Bowl champions find themselves in a fight to remain atop the beleaguered NFC South.

Despite falling to 6-7 with Sunday’s blowout loss at San Francisco, the Bucs remain in position for a postseason bid as the NFC’s fourth seed.

Dates with Cincinnati, Arizona and divisional foes Carolina and Atlanta await, and it’s no easy path. But the Bucs will look to find the consistency and cohesion that has eluded them all season long, and then carry that momentum into the postseason.



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Regardless of the outcome of Tampa Bay’s quest for another Lombardi Trophy, Brady’s future figures to rank among the most intriguing storylines of the offseason. Most NFL insiders believe he will likely retire, but because Brady has not announced his intentions, they do acknowledge that anything remains possible.

Despite his team’s struggles this season, Brady remains one of the better players at his position. So, if he wants to keep playing at 46 years old, the most decorated player in NFL history likely will have his share of suitors.

Brady, of course, would be selective. Any team worthy of his serious consideration would have to possess a strong defense, quality offensive line, adequate offensive weapons and a head coach receptive to input from Brady on the direction of the offense.

Here’s a rundown of the teams that rank among the most realistic options for Brady in 2023.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs would obviously love to try to extend this window of compelling football with Brady as the star of the show. Retaining Brady will require some financial maneuvering, because Tampa Bay projects to be more than $40 million over the cap next season. But we’ve seen Brady rework his deal to accommodate his team and allow for the key upgrade acquisitions many times. Tampa Bay must retool its defense and offensive line, while also adding another pass-catching tight end. Familiarity could entice, particularly if offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich doesn’t depart for a head coaching job.



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Brady grew up in the Bay Area, so this move would make a lot of sense for him. He reportedly had prior interest in playing for the 49ers. Is the timing now right for both parties? San Francisco would have some sorting out to do with the unproven Trey Lance, for whom it traded three first-round picks and a third in 2022. But Brady might give John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan a better immediate chance to win a Super Bowl. For Brady, there’s seemingly a lot to like about San Francisco. It boasts a talented defense and good depth at the offensive skill positions. The 49ers also have a quality line and believe in balance. Brady was a boyhood fan of Joe Montana, so this move would represent a dream come true for him, particularly if it ended with him hoisting another trophy — this time in front of the hometown crowd.

How great would it be if Brady moved to New York and embraced the opportunity to torment Bill Belichick and the Patriots faithful twice a year? Despite having drafted Zach Wilson with the second pick in 2021, the Jets have little confidence in him after a slow developmental process, but otherwise possess a roster that’s seemingly in win-now mode. Jets coach Robert Saleh ranks among the sharpest defensive minds in the game, and having thrived in New England all those years, Brady appreciates a dominant defense. The Jets also have young, blossoming talent at running back and wide receiver. New York brass would have some work to do on the offensive line, but Brady at his current level seemingly would give this long-suffering, yet on-the-rise, franchise legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.

Outside of Belichick, there’s not a coach in the league who better understands how to use and support Brady while giving him freedom to speak his mind than Josh McDaniels. The Raiders are in the midst of a season turnaround, but uncertainty hangs over Derek Carr. They must retain running back Josh Jacobs — that’s a no-brainer. They also offer a dynamic wide receiver in Davante Adams and tight end in Darren Waller, and you know Brady loves a quality tight end. The Raiders have holes to fill on defense, but Brady’s acquisition would likely help with recruitment.

Brady loves his old buddy and Patriots teammate Mike Vrabel. If anyone would roll out the red carpet and give Brady carte blanche, it’s the former New England linebacker/occasional goal-line pass-catching option. The Titans also check the box when it comes to strong defense and quality run game (if Derrick Henry can remain healthy following another punishing season). The wide receiver unit remains unproven, however, so that could cost the Titans in a pursuit of Brady if not adequately addressed.



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New England Patriots

Despite his departure in 2020, Brady remains a beloved figure in New England, is still close with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and could figure out how to make things work once again with Belichick. Mac Jones has had his bright spots, but remains inconsistent. If Kraft and Belichick believe one more dance with Brady will produce another realistic shot at a Super Bowl, they’ll do it. They may have to add some more offensive weapons, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

(Photo: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

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