February 3, 2023

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A Tom Brady reunion in New England?

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, who has covered the Patriots for more than a decade, said, “Don’t ever write off the Patriots,” in a recent article that broke down where the veteran quarterback might play next season if he decides he wants to return for a 24th campaign in the NFL.

It seemed like Brady was forever done wearing red, white and navy blue when he moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ended up winning a Super Bowl there. But, as he’s set to be a free agent once again after this season, Howe believes a reunion could be in the cards.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media after his team's 21-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 23, 2022.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media after his team’s 21-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

“The Patriots are slated to have more than $50 million in cap space in 2023, so they can again address their flaws, this time on the heels of a couple impressive draft classes,” Howe said.

“Brady and [head coach] Bill Belichick still have an abundance of respect for one another. They’ve made points to say it publicly on multiple occasions since the QB departed for Tampa. They also spent 23 minutes together in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium following Brady’s return in 2021 — an appointment they set up prior to the game.”

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Howe added that no “egos” or “pride” would get in the way of Brady returning if it came down to that. Instead, the offensive play-calling under Matt Patricia would be questioned by Brady to make sure that he wouldn’t be wasting his 24th season, considering that his days in the league are numbered (or so we all thought after he retired then decided not to in the same offseason).

But on the Patriots’ end, they would also like to know what Brady plans to do. If it’s a year-to-year decision, they may be less likely to want a reunion, especially after Mac Jones, the team’s current starter, was drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to be their quarterback of the future.

Tom Brady unretired from the NFL to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their quarterback.

Tom Brady unretired from the NFL to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their quarterback.
(Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jones has played well, but Belichick has the obvious winning history with Brady. Howe doesn’t think the Pats would even have to trade Jones because he’s still under a lengthy, cheap rookie deal and could learn a lot from Brady.

All in all, it’s an option and pure speculation at this point because no one knows for sure if Brady will truly hang up the cleats for good after this season with the Bucs.

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Howe also mentioned the San Francisco 49ers — Brady grew up a fan of them in San Mateo, California — the Tennessee Titans and the Las Vegas Raiders as potential destinations other than returning to Tampa Bay.

This season, Brady hasn’t seen the same offensive firepower he did in his first two seasons with the Bucs, as Bruce Arians’ departure seems to have left a void. His offensive line troubles also haven’t helped matters.

Tom Brady in action as a New England Patriot.

Tom Brady in action as a New England Patriot.
(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

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Still, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit in first place in a dreadful NFC South at 5-6, with the Atlanta Falcons behind them at 5-7.