Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has yet to announce his intentions for next season, but numerous sources close to the QB tell CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora they expect him to retire shortly.
The Buccaneers front office is bracing for his formal departure, and many of Brady's teammates anticipate him bidding farewell soon.
Several sources who are within Brady's inner circle anticipate that he will most likely reveal his future plans in the coming days. Brady is a historian of the game, he understands what it takes for players and teams to reach this point in the season, and would not want to upstage the game itself in any way.
On Saturday in response to reports suggesting Brady had already made the move, Brady's agent, Don Yee, said in a statement to CBS News, "I understand the advance speculation about Tom's future. Without getting into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what's being reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy. He knows the realities of the football business and planning calendar as well as anybody, so that should be soon."
Making an announcement the week leading up to the Super Bowl would not be his style, and waiting until after the Super Bowl, with the scouting combine then just weeks away, might begin to cut into the Buccaneers' ability to pivot as an organization and readjust their plans for 2022 if it was now to not include arguably the greatest football player who ever lived.
"He is very respectful of the game, and has great respect for the Tampa organization and all they have done for him," said one source close to the quarterback. "He understands the ramifications that this decision would have on the team moving forward, and he would never want to do anything to upstage the playoffs. Whatever he decides, I'd expect he announces it soon."
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While Brady has not said much explicitly about his plans, many teammates and close associates believe he went into this postseason knowing it would be his final run, no matter the outcome in the playoffs, as reported last week. The perception among that group remains the same, and Brady himself was far less declarative about his future playing status after last week's loss to the Rams than he has ever been before. Within the Bucs organization, sources said, there has been a growing sense that the team will end up in the market for a new starting quarterback next season, which likely means other top players like Rob Gronkowski opt to call is a career as well.
It was always going to be impossible for the Bucs to retain all 22 starters for the 2022 season the way they were able to last year after winning the Super Bowl, and Brady's retirement would precipitate other alterations in their team-building process. It would also very likely impact decisions by veterans like center Ryan Jensen as to whether or not to move on if the Bucs do find themselves in a rebuilding or retooling mode.
Most teams are already well into their offseason preparations and determining their needs and plans for free agency and the trade market, and those machinations will begin in earnest a month from now at the combine. Brady is fully aware of the ripple effect his departure would have on the organization, and however he opts to formalize his plans – on social media or through a press conference or both – there is a growing anticipation that it's coming this week.