Tom Brady surprised the NFL world by coming out of retirement after a 40-day break from the league. Brady decided he wasn't ready to give up playing in the NFL, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers believed he was done for good. Tampa Bay gladly welcomed Brady back into the fold, but head coach Bruce Arians admitted the organization was scrambling to find a replacement for 2022.
"We had started to uncover as many stones as we possibly could," Arians said, via NFL.com. "We would've turned over every stone. ... Jason (Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht) did his calls. We were in the midst of all that stuff when Tom decided to come back and thank God we could say, 'No thanks, brother. We're out of it.'"
With all the quarterback movement in the NFL, it's hard to imagine the Buccaneers wouldn't have been players for one of the signal callers who was eventually traded. Brady announcing his return two days prior to free agency put into motion the returns of wide receiver Chris Godwin, cornerback Carlton Davis, and several others. The Buccaneers are contenders in a drastically different NFC thanks to Brady, as they were able to hold serve in free agency while other teams were moving players to the AFC.
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Brady had one of his greatest seasons as a passer at the age of 44, becoming the first player since Peyton Manning in 2013 -- and just the third player since 1991 (Drew Brees is the other, in 2008) -- to lead the league in completions (485), attempts (719), passing yards (5,316), and passing touchdowns (43). There was no doubt Arians wanted him back.
"The way he played last year, it might have been his best year ever," Arians said. "There's no drop off -- Week 16, playoffs, he was on fire. And there won't be any drop off this year."