Tom Brady Retires after 22 Seasons, NFC South Is Open For Taking
According to a report by ESPN's Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is retiring after 22 seasons.
The seven-time Super Bowl winning quarterback will not return for another season despite the Buccaneers falling short of another Super Bowl appearance this year. The 44-year old is finally saying he has finished his time in the NFL.
Brady was one of the last holdouts of a generation of quarterbacks that have slowly dwindled due to retirement, and, despite his continued excellent play, his 22nd season in the league will be his last. The old guard of Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and now Brady have all now moved on.
The former New England Patriots legend effectively played two separate Hall of Fame careers, winning three Super Bowls in the 2000s, three in the 2010s, and one with the Buccaneers last season. The list of his records and achievements are impressively extensive, but his longevity and durability are equally as extraordinary.
The NFC South is going to look very different next year. The Saints will be without longtime head coach Sean Payton, and now the Buccaneers won't have their MVP-level Super Bowl-winning quarterback. The Panthers and Falcons won't look too different, but there's a reason both of those teams are picking in the top eight selections of the 2022 NFL Draft. It seems like it will be a weaker division that should be ripe for a team to take next season. That team could be the Saints.
It will now be interesting to see what Tampa Bay does next. Tight end Rob Gronkowski's return to retirement is probably not too far behind this announcement. Former pro bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin is due for a new contract when he hits free agency after Tampa franchise tagged him last year. He suffered a season-ending ACL tear in week 15 to the Saints, so that will be a decision to keep an eye on. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have each been tied to multiple head coaching searches. Brady's retirement may spark an exodus of players and staff from the Buccaneers.
New Orleans fans probably have mixed feelings on Brady. He ended the Saints' season in 2021 in the NFC Divisional Round during Brees' last year, but New Orleans has also been the team that the Buccaneers have been unable to beat during the regular season in the last two years. However, if Brady gave Saints fans anything, it's the memory of their archrival Atlanta Falcons collapsing and blowing a 28-3 second-half lead in a 34-28 overtime loss during Super Bowl LI when he was the quarterback of the Patriots. That will always be something nice to remember the legendary quarterback for.