If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the most thrown off by Tom Brady retiring and unretiring in the span of just 40 days, the NFL schedule-makers were a close second. As you can imagine, piecing together an 18-week regular-season slate is no easy task as the NFL not only needs to balance various other events at stadiums (concerts, shows, etc.), but also wants to maximize TV revenue by placing the best matchups in windows with the most eyeballs.
Of course, when Brady left New England to sign with Tampa Bay in 2020, it propped the Buccaneers up the list of teams best-suited for prime-time windows. With him momentarily gone, it did create a drop-off in star power for the overall NFC package. While the schedule-makers were concerned with how they'd fill that void and put together strong matchups, it was short-lived as Brady announced his return to the NFL after just five weeks in retirement.
On the one hand, the NFC's package was brought back to life with Brady's comeback. That said, the schedule-makers, who were already piecing together the 2022 regular season, had to essentially start from scratch.
"When Tom Brady retired, we were concerned about the strength of the NFC package because there were so many terrific Tampa Bay games we were looking at," NFL broadcasting chief Howard Katz told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
"Then a month later he unretires and we sort of started all over again."
This is ultimately a good problem to have for the NFL even if it required a rebuild in the overall schedule. During their playoff run a season ago, the Buccaneers were among the higher-rated postseason matchups during both Super Wild Card Weekend (vs. Eagles) and the Divisional Round (vs. Rams), according to Sports Media Watch.
While Tampa Bay will have to wait until Thursday's schedule release to find out the full rundown of its 2022 regular-season schedule, the Bucs do know that they'll be heading to Germany where they'll face the Seattle Seahawks in Munich in one of the NFL's multiple international games. Given that this game will feature Brady and take place in a new frontier for the NFL, that'll certainly be must-see viewing as will most of these games in what could be the quarterback's final season.
The full 2022 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app. NFL GameDay View: Schedule Release will stream that night at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount+, NFL.com, the NFL app, YouTube and the NFL Channel.