NFL Insider floats theory on Tom Brady returning to Patriots

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe thinks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady could return to the New England Patriots this offseason to again play under coach Bill Belichick. 

For a piece published Wednesday, Howe noted that Brady and Belichick, “still have an abundance of respect for one another.” After Brady and the Buccaneers defeated Belichick and the Patriots in October 2021, the two, “spent 23 minutes together in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium…an appointment they set up prior to the game.” 

As for the financial aspect of Brady signing with the team that was his NFL home from the 2000 draft through the 2019 season, Howe pointed out that the Patriots “are slated to have more than $50 million in cap space in 2023.” Such available funds theoretically would allow New England to land the seven-time Super Bowl champion and other targets in free agency. 

Howe wrote that Brady likely would want to pick his offensive coordinator in New England unless the 45-year-old felt comfortable working alongside assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge for at least one season. One thing Brady wouldn’t have to worry about is the status of Mac Jones, as the 2021 first-round draft pick is on a relatively inexpensive rookie contract that runs through 2024 and includes a fifth-year option. Jones could sit behind the G.O.A.T and learn for an entire year unless the Patriots shopped the 24-year-old to would-be buyers. 

Former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light told WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Wednesday he thinks a Brady-Belichick reunion is possible, if only because of Brady’s desire to win. 

“Listen, I wouldn’t put anything past him,” Light said of Brady, according to Jenna Lemoncelli of the New York Post. “Look, the guy wants to win, and he knows how to do it with a guy like Belichick. I think he’s seen the differences now. He’d only played for Bill, then he goes down to Tampa. He’s had a couple head coaches down there now. He could conceivably come back and want to be with a proven winner. That would not shock me at all.” 

Brady raised eyebrows earlier this month when he admitted he still watches the Patriots “every week,” and he recently said he would rather lose games than not play at all. While whispers about Brady playing beyond 2022 have grown louder throughout the ongoing season, it’s believed he wants to remain in close proximity to his children. Reports surfaced following their divorce that Gisele Bündchen, Brady’s ex-wife, purchased a home in the Miami Beach area.

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