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Over the course of the offseason, there was a lot of speculation suggesting that Tom Brady was trying to leave Tampa Bay this year and although that didn't end up happening, the seven-time Super Bowl winner will definitely be able to leave the Buccaneers following the 2022 season, if that's what he wants to do. 

When Brady agreed to his newly restructured deal on Friday, the new contract included two key elements as far as his future goes (Details via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe): 

  • The contract didn't add any additional years to Brady's old deal. Under his old deal, Brady was set to become a free agent following the upcoming season and that will still be the case under the restructured deal. 
  • The contract includes a clause that will prevent the Buccaneers from using the franchise or transitional tag on Brady. The biggest part of Brady's deal is this clause because it means Tampa Bay can't hit him with the franchise or transition tag. The clause was in his original contract and because it's still included in his restructured deal, it means there will be no way for the Buccaneers to keep him from becoming a free agent in 2023.

Basically what this all means is that as long as he doesn't retire following the 2022 season, Brady will almost certainly be hitting the free agent market for just the second time in his career. 

If Brady wanted to play for the Buccaneers next season, he simply could have signed an extension instead of restructuring his deal. An extension also would have helped the Bucs, because it would have taken Brady's future pay off the books if he decided to retire while under contract with them. Instead, the Buccaneers are now in a spot where they have a low cap number with Brady this year (just $13.77 million), but a sky-high one in 2023 ($35.1 million) and that $35 million cap hit is going to happen whether Brady is on the team or not. 

So will Brady retire after the 2022 season or will he look to sign with a new team? Although the quarterback has been mum about his future, he definitely hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing next year. 

"I'm gonna enjoy this year," Brady told Complex in a recent interview. "I don't know what's gonna happen beyond this year. We're not really promised anything. I'm gonna have to work my ass off to get my body the way it needs to in order to give my team the best chance to succeed."

In that same interview, Brady hinted that this might be his last season when he told his family that he wanted to do the football thing, 'One more time.' 

"I decided to talk with my family and I said, 'I think I wanna do this one more time if you guys will support that,'" Brady said when asked what led to his decision to come out of retirement after just 40 days. "And my wife was so supportive of it and she said, 'Look, I want you to be happy. I want you to enjoy it and go out there and win.' Ultimately, that's why I came back, to win. There's only one reason to play for me at this point in my career. And that's to win.'"

With Brady so focused on winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers this season, it's almost a guarantee that he won't be answering any questions about his future over the next few months. However, that doesn't mean we can't look at how things might play out. 

Pro Football Talk reported multiple times this offseason that Brady was close to joining the Dolphins, but that entire plan fell apart after Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the team (and the NFL) on Feb. 1. Just because Brady didn't end up in Miami this offseason doesn't mean he can't make it happen next year. Also, let's not forget that Brady wanted to sign with the 49ers back in 2020 before settling on the Bucs, so San Francisco could still be a possibility if he hits free agency next offseason. 

Although Brady could very well end up playing for a new team next season when he'll be 46 years old, one thing he won't be doing is playing until he's 50. In the interview with Complex, the three-time MVP made it clear that he'll be retiring before then.

"I don't think I will just because I know the commitment that it takes," Brady said when asked if he could envision himself playing until 50. "I know the commitment that it takes for me at 44 and 45. I worked out today and it's a big commitment and I'm away from my 14-year-old son and my 12-year-old son and my nine-year-old daughter. And they deserve my time and energy and they're getting older... If I played till 50, I'd miss a lot of really important things in his life. And I don't wanna do that." 

Brady will be turning 45 in August and based on those comments, it seems he's ruled out the possibility of playing until he's 50, but it doesn't seem like he's ruled out the possibility of playing another year or two, which will make next offseason an interesting one for any team that needs a quarterback.