Tom Brady isn’t finished after all.
Just more than a month after he announced plans to retire, the seven-time Super Bowl-champion quarterback announced on Sunday that he actually will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2022 season, his 23rd in the NFL.
He announced the news on social media with a statement that read, “These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG.”
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Brady and the Buccaneers’ quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions last season fell short, ending in the divisional round on a late-game score in a 30-27 loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams.
Brady, who turns 45 in August, produced one of his finest statistical seasons in 2021, completing 67.5% of his passes for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. He finished second to the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers in the voting for the Associated Press’ NFL Most Valuable Player award.
After Brady announced his decision on Feb. 1 to step away from the NFL, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said the organization wasn’t ruling out the possibility of a return.
“Right now we’re trying to make our plans to move forward, if that’s the case … We’re still in that process right now,” Licht said on “Good Morning Football.” “We’ll see what the future holds. Let’s just say we’ll leave the light on. We always leave the light on for a guy like Tom Brady.”
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, however, was less optimistic about a change of heart for his star signal-caller.
“He slammed it shut when I talked to him,” Arians said of whether Brady had left the door open for a comeback.
Brady’s return elevates the Buccaneers back to contender status for 2022. Tampa Bay, however, could be poised to lose several starters in free agency, which officially begins Wednesday. Cornerback Carlton Davis, center Ryan Jensen, running back Leonard Fournette, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston and tight end Rob Gronkowski are among those set to hit the market as free agents.
The Buccaneers placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin, who recorded a team-high 98 catches and 1,103 yards in 14 games before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament.