Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said Tuesday the team will "always leave the light on" for Tom Brady if the star quarterback wants to postpone his retirement. But head coach Bruce Arians is confident Brady is staying home for good. Addressing reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine later Tuesday, Arians said the QB "slammed" the door on a potential comeback when the two last spoke, suggesting the Buccaneers will be forced to explore a thin crop of available replacements for 2022.
"Every time I met with him (during the 2021 season), he felt fantastic," Arians said of Brady. "The way he was playing, I had myself convinced he was coming back. And then when we talked, I understood everything about (his decision to retire)."
Brady's reasons for retiring -- more time with family and post-football endeavors -- are the same reasons Arians believes the seven-time Super Bowl champion will remain retired.
"He slammed it shut when I talked to him," the coach said of a possible comeback. "I think, like a lot of these guys, he (just) likes to have his name out there."
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Arians added, according to ESPN's Jeff Darlington, that the Bucs will "do our due diligence" to identify a Brady successor. But Arians doesn't necessarily see many veteran starters becoming available via trade, at least at a reasonable price. "This year there's not much available," he said Tuesday. "You're going to have to give a lot for some of these guys, if they're even available."
While fielding questions about potential targets, Arians said he isn't "totally opposed" to reuniting with Jameis Winston, the former No. 1 overall pick who spent one season as Arians' QB in Tampa Bay. Winston is scheduled to hit free agency later this month after an abbreviated run as the Saints' starter. But Arians added that he feels Winston would find a better home elsewhere.