Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, who recruited Brady in 2020 and coached him for two successful seasons, is convinced that the 44-year-old QB is not planning a return.
"That would shock me," Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times this weekend. "And he let us know in time to do the free agency like we've done in the past, that's why I don't see it happening.
"I don't know if there's really a story there."
But that doesn't mean Arians and the Bucs aren't prepping for all possibilities. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported last week that Tampa Bay is leaving the door open for Brady in case he changes his mind on retirement and that the Bucs would do whatever is necessary for him to return -- a possibility Brady himself isn't completely ruling out.
With Blaine Gabbert slated to hit free agency and Kyle Trask as the only QB currently on the roster for 2022, Tampa Bay is also looking elsewhere for a Brady replacement, doing homework on Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Brady kept hope alive for a possible return when, less than a week after retiring, he said on his Sirius XM podcast that he would "never say never" on the possibility of playing again. The future Hall of Famer is on the books for about $10.4 million in Tampa Bay in 2022.
In addition to reports of Brady aiming to return and play somewhere other than Tampa Bay next season, Arians, in his conversation with Stroud, took issue with accusations made Friday by former NFL player Rich Ohrnberger that Arians and Brady were not "seeing eye to eye" on game-planning and their relationship soured from there, prompting Brady to opt for the exits.
"I mean, that's such bulls---," Arians told Stroud. "That's what pisses me off.
"It seems like there's one (story) every day now. Everybody is speculating he's going somewhere else. That don't bother me. This other bulls---, the relationship thing, that's so far-fetched."