Tom Brady's return to Bucs is causing a free agency ripple effect


Tom Brady is back, and he means business.

The former New England Patriots quarterback ended his brief retirement Sunday by announcing his return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2022 season.

That Brady made his announcement just before Monday's unofficial start to NFL free agency is no coincidence: According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the 44-year-old QB has been working hard this week to keep several pending free agents in Tampa Bay.

The Bucs have already lost guard Alex Cappa (Bengals) and safety Jordan Whitehead (Jets) to free agency. But center Ryan Jensen and cornerback Carlton Davis have committed to returning, with Davis admitting Brady's presence played a key role in his free-agent decision.

Tampa Bay has several other very talented players hitting free agency, including running back Leonard Fournette, tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and William Gholston.

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Both Fournette and Gronkowski appeared out the door last month, with the former posting what sounded like a farewell message on Instagram and the latter reportedly being courted by the Buffalo Bills.

Now that Brady is back? Fournette since has deleted that Instagram post, and it'd be very surprising to see Gronkowski play with anyone other than his quarterback of 11 years.


The Bucs are instant contenders with Brady back in the fold, so it's logical that he'd both retain and attract talent to Tampa Bay, as linebacker Devin White pointed out Tuesday on Instagram.

Brady apparently hasn't been shy about making sure the Bucs maximize their offseason, either. Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen said Brady came to him with a detailed plan to improve from a 2021 season that ended with an NFC Championship Game loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

"He had a list. He said, ‘Here’s how we can be better.’ I think he had been out of retirement 12 hours or so by then," Christensen recalled, via The Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud.

"The first thing he said was he didn’t want to go out that way. He wanted to make sure we do everything to win it all next year."

If the Bucs can bring back much of their core while adding fresh faces like wide receiver Russell Gage, they'll be well on their way toward achieving that goal -- at the expense of other teams hoping to nab Tampa Bay's free agents.