What Tom Brady retirement means for Buccaneers, Raiders, 49ers & Aaron Rodgers as NFL QB carousel begins to spin

What Tom Brady retirement means for Buccaneers, Raiders, 49ers & Aaron Rodgers as NFL QB carousel begins to spin

Tom Brady’s NFL career has come to an end, and this time, it’s “for good.”

The 45-year-old announced on social media that he would be hanging up his cleats after a legendary 23-year run as an NFL starting quarterback.

“Thank you guys so much to every single one of you for supporting me,” the seven-time Super Bowl winner said as a part of his 53-second announcement. “My family, my friends, teammates, my competitors — I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream.”

Brady’s retirement will have a ripple effect on the NFL. He was expected to be one of the top quarterbacks available in free agency during the 2023 offseason despite the fact that he would be entering his age-46 season, and it seemed likely there would be at least a couple of teams interested in his services.

Now, those teams will have to move onto their Plan Bs — unless Brady reverses course on his retirement decision as he did during the 2022 offseason.

So, how will the Buccaneers, Raiders and 49ers proceed with Brady out of the picture? Here’s a breakdown of what’s next for each team.

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How Tom Brady retirement impacts the Buccaneers

The Buccaneers are set to be impacted the most by Brady’s decision to retire. He wasn’t under contract with the team for the 2023 NFL season, but it was reported by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington that the choice Brady was making was between returning Tampa Bay or stepping away.

Naturally, Brady chose the latter. Now, the Buccaneers’ quarterback room is in flux because of it, and there is no easy fix for it.

The Buccaneers will enter the 2023 offseason $55 million over the salary cap. They will be able to defray that number via roster cuts, restructures and other financial measures, but they will have to perform some major cap gymnastics to afford one of the more expensive players available on the quarterback market.

What does that mean? Well, the Buccaneers can probably be in on the likes of Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers if either is traded, but they may have to give up some key players to create space to add them while giving up assets to land those quarterbacks.

As such, Tampa Bay might prefer to go a cheaper route. Would that involve starting a rookie? They may not be in range to land the 2023 NFL Draft’s top three passers, but they could get Anthony Richardson. If not him, then perhaps giving another former Florida Gator — third-year pro Kyle Trask — a chance to win the job wouldn’t be a bad idea.

That said, the Bucs are in a weaker division, so they might like to have a veteran presence at quarterback to ensure that they have a good shot to compete within and win the NFC South again in 2023. Perhaps, in that case, the marriage of a young quarterback, like Richardson or Trask, and a veteran stopgap — like Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett — could be the play here.

The Buccaneers have, arguably, the widest range of options at the position among the Brady suitors. They have three distinct directions in which they could go, and none would be too surprising.

Either way though, they are dealing with instability at the position, and that’s not something they have often had to worry about during Brady’s three-year tenure with the team.

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How Tom Brady retirement impacts the Raiders

The Raiders were going to be in on Brady during the 2023 offseason, per reports. That’s not a surprise considering that the quarterback has a longstanding relationship with Josh McDaniels and that the Raiders are looking to trade long-time starter Derek Carr.

Las Vegas will now need to adjust its plans further with Brady unavailable. And if the team wants to take another big swing, it could target Aaron Rodgers — should the Packers make him available for trade.

The Packers would only consider trading Rodgers to the AFC, so the Raiders fit the requirements there. They also agreed to acquire Davante Adams from Green Bay last year, so the two teams have a recent history of blockbuster trades.

Rodgers is coming off a down year after back-to-back MVP campaigns, but he is still among the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL. He would give the Raiders playoff potential even while playing in a division that contains within it Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and a freshly minted Russell Wilson-Sean Payton tag team.

The Raiders can also easily afford to get Rodgers. They have just over $20 million in cap space and are looking to trade Carr to open up $29.25 million more. If they can do that, Rodgers would fit in with ease, and he may even be willing to restructure his contract to allow the Raiders flexibility to add more to their roster.

If Rodgers remains in Green Bay or he, too, decides to retire, Jimmy Garoppolo would be the obvious pivot. He is set to be a free agent and, like Brady, has experience working with Josh McDaniels from their three-plus years together with the Patriots. He started just two games for the Patriots in that span, but he won both of them and posted 690 yards and five touchdowns in McDaniels’ system.

Garoppolo would likely be an upgrade over the turnover-prone Carr, and if he continues to play steady, he could help the Raiders fight for a playoff berth.

The Raiders could also target other veteran stopgaps as they look to trade Carr. However, they are searching to upgrade him and there are precious few players available who can definitively do that. Rodgers and Garoppolo represent two of them; if the Raiders don’t land them, they could prefer to add a rookie with upside to the fold.

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How Tom Brady retirement impacts the 49ers

Few expected the 49ers to be in the quarterback market entering the 2023 offseason given how well Brock Purdy was playing at the end of the season.

It was presumed that San Francisco would roll with Purdy and 2021 No. 3 pick Trey Lance as a cheap, young, talented quarterback tandem in 2023. They would compete for the starting job but Purdy had the edge after his stellar performance during the 49ers’ NFC championship game run.

However, Purdy tore his UCL against the Eagles, and he is now set to miss at least six months because of the injury. He is expected back before the start of the season, but the 49ers can’t take that for granted. Nor can they assume that Lance — who is coming off a serious ankle injury — will be 100 percent despite his insistence that he will be by the time OTAs start.

Those two young passers are the only quarterbacks the 49ers have under contract for 2023, so they seem likely to add a veteran to the fold.

Brady would have made for a sensible fit. He has the skills needed to succeed in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and would have thrived throwing to yards-after-the-catch weapons like Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. His presence could have put the 49ers over the top and made them a true Super Bowl failure.

Brady also grew up a 49ers fan and has family in the Bay Area. So, he would have the incentive to join the team beyond the on-field fit.

However, Brady’s retirement nixes that possibility. Still, it won’t prove all that detrimental to the 49ers. They have a bright future at quarterback, so they can trust Purdy and Lance. They will just need injury protection for them in the form of a veteran backup.

What would that look like? San Francisco would probably target a veteran to add depth to its quarterback room. That may involve attempting to bring back Garoppolo — if he doesn’t get starter looks elsewhere — or shopping for a capable spot starter like Jacoby Brissett or Case Keenum.

A move like that may not excite fans, at least not as much as adding Brady would. But all San Francisco needs to do is add a solid, healthy backup to this quarterback room. The 49ers’ only incentive to swing big was if Brady was available and Purdy’s timeline to return worsened.

That didn’t happen, so they can firmly remove themselves from the NFL starting quarterback market if they so desire.