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Tom Brady was very close to officially joining the Dolphins, initially as an owner

Bruce Arians didn't hold back as he downplayed QB Tom Brady while praising Tampa's offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

When Tom Brady retired on February 1, his next move already was coming into focus. Per multiple sources, Brady eventually would have been introduced as a minority owner of the Dolphins. The announcement would have been made as soon as the following week, which was the week that preceded the Super Bowl.

When we reported on February 28 that the Dolphins had planned to pursue a Sean Payton/Tom Brady package deal, the Dolphins privately acknowledged that they had contacted the Saints about the possibility of hiring Payton. As to Brady, the Dolphins privately acknowledged that there had been discussions about Brady becoming a minority owner of the team.

Then came the Brian Flores lawsuit. Filed (coincidentally or not) the same day Brady retired, the litigation resulted in the plug being pulled on the Payton/Brady plan.

After Brady became a minority owner, the Dolphins would have indeed acquired the contractual rights to employ Payton from the Saints. Then, the Dolphins would have at some point gotten the rights from the Buccaneers to bring Brady to the roster.

Even though it didn’t happen, it’s an important consideration because Brady will continue to hover as a potential addition to the Dolphins. He has a close relationship with Bruce Beal, the right-hand man and successor-in-waiting to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. With Brady under contract for one more season in Tampa Bay and his deal containing a no-tag clause, Brady will be a free agent in 2023. He will be able to sign with any team he chooses.

Could he retire after 2022? Possibly. But that possibility becomes less significant if we regard his 2022 retirement for what it was. It wasn’t a retirement from football but an attempted retirement from the Buccaneers. When the Miami possibility imploded, and when nothing materialized in San Francisco, his only option was to play for the Buccaneers in 2022.

Next year, he’ll have plenty of options. Including becoming the next quarterback of the Dolphins. Unless Tua Tagovailoa, under the tutelage of coach Mike McDaniel, becomes the guy the team expected him to be when he became the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft.